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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that the number of pedestrians killed in the U.S. in 2017 was nearly 6,000. After two straight years of significant increases, the number of pedestrians being killed on our streets seems to be holding steady.

According to GHSA, this number is the highest it’s been in the last 25 years. Although the rise “seems to be holding,” the “ongoing problem of so many pedestrian fatalities raises concerns about the dangers facing pedestrians on our streets.”

This is even more concerning when you realize that the number of fatalities resulting from other types of traffic accidents is falling. GHSA mentioned that enhanced vehicle safety features make collisions safer for people inside vehicles – but these are not helpful to pedestrians.

There was a rise of 27% in pedestrian deaths from 2007 to 2016, but during this same time deaths from other types of traffic accidents fell by 14%, GHSA reports. The result is that pedestrian fatalities account for a higher proportion of overall traffic accident fatalities. 

Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrian Accident Attorney

The GHSA report is derived from early data from state highway agencies. A total of 23 states plus Washington, D.C., showed a rise in pedestrian fatalities. During the same time period there was a decrease in 20 states while the balance remained more or less the same.

Five states – Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas – made up 43% of pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2017. This is despite the fact that only 30% of the country’s population resides in those states.

Laurel Wamsley last year reported on NPR that a study was done by Smart Growth America revealing the most deadly cities in the U.S. for pedestrians. According to this study, eight cities out of the top 10 were in Florida. The study also revealed that the population most at risk is people of color, as she reported:

“People of color are disproportionately represented among the pedestrians being killed. Non-white individuals make up 34.9% of the U.S. population, whereas they comprise 46.1% of the country’s pedestrian fatalities.

“In some regions, this disparity is very pronounced. For example, Native Americans make up just 5% of the population of North Dakota, but this group accounts for almost 38% of pedestrian fatalities.”

The study also discovered that people with no health insurance, the poor and the elderly were more apt to reside in areas that are particularly deadly for pedestrians.

The most recent GHSA report does not categorize deaths by income, insurance or race. However, it does show that the elderly and children are “especially at risk.”

The question remains as to why pedestrian deaths have increased so much since 2014. Last year, when the GHSA report revealed an 11% increase over the previous year in pedestrian deaths, David Schaper of NPR took a close look at some of the possible causes:

“GHSA spokesperson Maureen Vogel said that there was ‘a perfect storm’ when a number of factors came together to spur the increase: There were more cars on the road due to a better economy and lower gas prices. People were just driving more, ‘but that doesn’t explain the whole story, so something else must be going on.’

“One possible explanation can be seen during downtown Chicago’s rush hour traffic if you look at all the drivers inching their way through traffic and the dozens of pedestrians crossing the street in the intersections. You can clearly see that many of the drivers and the pedestrians as well looking down at their cell phones.

“ We are totally distracted," said Melody Geraci, who is the deputy executive director of a Chicago group called, the Active Transportation Alliance, that advocates for improved public transportation, walking and cycling. ‘Speeding and not yielding are the top two causes of pedestrian deaths, but the third cause is distractions, which are usually by mobile devices."

“There is a lot of documentation attesting to the fact that drivers distracted by their mobile devices cause traffic accidents. But, there is an increase in pedestrians being distracted too, causing them to be totally unaware of all the traffic whirling around them.” 

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Other factors would be speeding vehicles and alcohol – not just drunk drivers, but drunk pedestrians too. The GHSA most recent report said that 33% of pedestrian deaths involved a pedestrian who had a blood alcohol count over the legal limit for driving. Yet, there are no laws against walking down the street while drunk, but obviously this is a very dangerous practice, which can kill you.

Another factor was time of day with 75% of pedestrian deaths occurring at night in the dark. In 72% of the cases, the deceased was jay walking, or crossing in the middle of the street without being in the intersection. 

This latest report also indicates that marijuana use may also be a factor:

“From 2012 to 2016 there were seven states plus Washington DC, that voted to legalized the recreational use of marijuana. These states were Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. These states reported a 16.4% rise in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017 vs. the first half of 2016. Interestingly, all other states had a collective 5.8% decrease in pedestrian deaths.”

However, GHSA cannot assert a “definitive association” or “direct correlation” in explaining those particular states’ much higher rates of pedestrian fatalities.

If you have a loved one that was killed in a pedestrian accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to seek compensation. You need to know your legal rights and how to protect them and an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help. The law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley has handled hundreds of clients in similar situations. Call today and speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who will treat you with the respect and concern you deserve during this very difficult time.

(Source: NPR)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

Late Wednesday afternoon, just as rush hour began and traffic began backing up on Vasco Road, a motorcyclist was injured in a 4-vehicle accident. The rider was transported to a local hospital with injuries that were described as “moderate to major,” according to a spokesperson from the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).

Contra Costa Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Photo: Tony Kukulich - The Press

The 33-year-old male rider was reported to be an Alameda County police officer who was off duty at the time. He suffered a number of broken bones and was transported via CALSTAR medical helicopter to John Muir Medical Center’s trauma unit in Walnut Creek. Captain Dan Baio of the ECCFPD said that the victim might have sustained other internal injuries as well.

“Now that he’s being taken care of by the medical team at John Muir, his injuries are being fully examined and treated,” said Baio.

The accident was called in at about 4:20 p.m. and happened approximately three miles south of where Vasco Road intersects with Camino Diablo.

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An officer from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) who was investigating the scene of the accident surmised that distracted driving likely set off a series of collisions as northbound traffic suddenly slowed down on Vasco Road. The CHP officer said a black Hyundai Sonata slammed into a grey Honda CRV, propelling that vehicle into the back of a silver Acura TSX. Several cars spun around from the force, with one striking the motorcyclist, who had been riding on the shoulder at the time. The rider explained to the CHP officer that he had purposely moved over into the shoulder trying to avoid being hit.

Three other people were reportedly injured in the accident, but after being initially assessed by paramedics on the scene, they all chose not to be taken to the hospital.

While ECCFPD firefighters cleared a landing area for the medical helicopter, traffic was halted in both directions on Vasco Road. Traffic going northbound was backed up to Livermore. Traffic going southbound was back open one hour after the accident and traffic going northbound was back open not long after.

The CHP is still conducting an investigation into what caused the accident, however they do not think drugs and/or alcohol were a factor.

Because motorcycle accident cases are so complicated, you should definitely consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents. The law firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley have the knowledge and background you need. Our team of attorneys has more than 50 years of personal injury experience and a track record of success that is second to none. If you’ve been wrongfully injured we will negotiate for a top-dollar settlement or take your case to trial to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries.

(Source: The Press)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

CONCORD, CA – A pickup truck struck and killed a 60-year-old man on his bike Wednesday morning just after midnight, police said.

The fatal accident occurred at about 12:05 AM on southbound San Miguel Road in the vicinity of Systron Drive, according to police. The truck driver, a 57-year-old man from Antioch, suffered no injuries. He immediately called 911, remained at the scene and cooperated fully when the police arrived to investigate the collision.

Police held off identifying the victim until his family could be notified. Officers however did go ahead and pronounce him deceased at the scene.

Investigators still have not ascertained why the truck struck the cyclist, but it is not believed that drugs or alcohol played a part. Police closed San Miguel Road for 3 ½ hours between 1080 San Miguel Road and Systron Drive, a three-tenths-mile stretch.

Were You Hurt in a Cycling Accident in Concord? Contact O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley for Help!

When you think about the fact that bicyclists have hardly any protection, save for a helmet to safeguard their head and maybe a little protective gear for arms and knees, when they collide with a car it is often catastrophic, if not fatal.

If you or a close relative has been seriously injured in a cycling accident, the personal injury law firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley can definitely help.

With many decades of legal experience in this area of the law, we waste no time in doing all we can to get you the maximum amount of financial compensation. Furthermore, we have plenty of experience going to trial if that’s what it takes, so we’re not going to settle for a meager amount.

We have an outstanding team of lawyers specializing in bicycle accidents who understand the full extent of the physical injuries they can cause. Very often these injuries are devastating if not disabling. Reach out to us today at (925) 939-5600 to arrange for a FREE legal consultation. Our bicycle injury attorneys will listen to you and dig into the police report. We will represent you throughout your claim so that you get the medical care you need and the compensation you deserve. 

What typically causes a cycling accident in Concord?

There can be quite a few contributing factors, any one of which can lead to a serious bicycle accident in Concord. It could be distracted driving and/or a distracted cyclist, either one could ignore a stop sign or fail to yield, one or both could be drunk or on drugs, and bad weather can often be a factor.

Types of injuries that commonly result from bicycle accidents include the following:

  • Fractured or crushed bones that can be so serious that amputation may result
  • Serious bruises, road rash, skin abrasions and cuts that may lead to disfigurement
  • Partial or complete paralysis due to severe spinal cord injuries
  • Closed head injuries and/or traumatic brain injuries
Bicycle Accident Attorney
Bicycle Accident Attorney

Arrange a FREE legal consultation with a top-notch bicycle injury attorney

Our Concord personal injury lawyers understand the ordeal you’ve been through and the uphill battle you are still facing. We specialize in bicycle accidents and have the ability to prepare a rock-solid case on your behalf. We can enter negotiations for a generous settlement or take your case to trial.

We are a highly experienced personal injury law firm that has represented hundreds of clients with serious injuries, including clients involved in all kinds of bicycle and pedestrian accidents. No one will fight harder for you than the law firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley.

Call O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley today

You can trust our team of bicycle injury attorneys to successfully handle your case. We have more experience in this area of the law than any other Contra Costa County law firm. For a law firm that will aggressive fight for you, call O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley at (925) 939-5600.

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(Source: East Bay Times)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

SUNOL, CA – A young girl just 8 years old was tragically killed just after midnight on Friday. The car she was riding in was violently rear-ended by another car near a highway construction zone on I-680, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The 3-car crash also sent the girl’s parents to Eden Medical Center, with one having sustained major injuries, Officer Tyler Hahn of the CHP said.

8 Year Old Killed in Rear End Auto Accident
Photo Credit: ABC News

The accident occurred on the northbound lanes of I-68 around 12:20 a.m. As a black Dodge in the far left lane neared the exit at Calaveras Road, traffic slowed due to the two left lanes having been closed by the California Department of Transportation. 

The Dodge did not slow down and slammed into the back of a white Toyota, according to Hahn. The driver of the Dodge had apparently fallen asleep, which was confirmed Friday morning by the CHP.

The girl who was killed had been riding in the back seat of the white Toyota, Hahn added. Her father had been driving and he sustained major injuries. Her mother was sitting in the front passenger seat and was hospitalized with minor injuries, according to the CHP.

The crash caused the Toyota to slam into a gray Ford. Fortunately, no one in the Dodge or Ford sustained any injuries, Hahn said.

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The accident caused all three northbound lanes of I-680 to be blocked until the CHP was able to clear the scene a little after 2:20 a.m.

Hahn said that it did not appear as if alcohol or drugs played any role in the accident. Anyone who may have witnessed the accident are asked to contact the Dublin office of the CHP at: (925) 828-0466.

If you have lost a family member in an accident caused by someone else, you may be entitled to seek legal recourse and compensation. To ensure that your legal rights are protected, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Pick up the phone and call the law firm of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley to speak with an attorney who has handled hundreds of cases similar to yours. You deserve to be treated with sympathy and respect during this very difficult time.

(Source: East Bay Times)

 Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

CROCKETT, CA – The California Highway Patrol responded to a fatal crash involving a big-rig truck on Interstate Highway 80 this past week in Crockett.

The accident involved a sedan crashing into a big-rig truck near the Pomona Street off-ramp from the I-80, according to the CHP. In addition to the fatality, there was one injury.

The crash was called in to the CHP at 3:55 a.m., but the fatality wasn’t reported until 5:28 a.m.

Big Rig Accident Attorney
Big Rig Accident Attorney


The victim who died was transported to a local hospital after the crash and later succumbed to the injuries, according to the CHP.

This crash happened in near the same spot where another big-rig truck crashed and burned earlier that same morning on I-80, not far from the Carquinez Bridge.


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That crash also resulted in injuries and occurred about 1:00 a.m., all lanes of the highway had to be closed off for over two hours.

If you have lost a family member in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To have your legal rights protected contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer. O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are highly skilled personal injury attorneys with many years experience.When you call our law firm, you will speak with an attorney who has successfully handled hundreds of similar cases. We understand your anguish and will treat you with the sensitivity you deserve during this difficult time. 

(Source: ABC News)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

OAKLEY, CA – A man on the run after escaping a jail in Wyoming was driving a stolen Honda when he plowed into another vehicle last Tuesday, killing his female passenger and severely injuring himself.

Erica Pearce, 35 succumbed to her injuries later Tuesday at Walnut Creek’s John Muir Medical Center trauma unit after initially being taken to Sutter Delta Medical Center for assistance with her breathing.

The Contra Costa County Coroner’s office confirmed her identity on Thursday. Pearce was wanted by law enforcement in Missoula, MT for escaping a minimum-security jail and a warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Fatal Oakley Crash
Fatal Oakley Crash - Photo Credit ECT

The driver of the Honda, Jerome Dunks, 37, was in taken to John Muir Medical Center and remains in critical condition, according to police. It is too early to know whether he’ll survive his injuries.

Law enforcement said that Wyoming had issued an arrest warrant on Dunks for escaping a minimum-security jail. At the time of the accident he was driving a stolen Honda Civic that belonged to the state.

Police claim they have no idea how Dunks and Pearce knew each other or what their relationship was. They both managed to escape their minimum-security jails at about the same time, 10 days ago, according to authorities.

The collision occurred at about 5:10 a.m. in the intersection of Laurel Rd. and O’Hara Ave. As the Honda approached Laurel Rd. in the northbound lanes of O’Hara Ave., it moved into the southbound lanes, passing cars that had come to a stop, police said.

The Honda then moved back into the northbound lanes before entering the intersection and immediately T-boned the SUV. The driver of the SUV was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he received treatment for his injuries.

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The Honda and SUV were both totaled. The collision also damaged a critical fiber optic line, causing Internet and cable TV service to be interrupted for hundreds of people in the vicinity.

If you or family member has been in a motor vehicle accident or been the victim of motor vehicle negligence and want to consult with a Bay Area attorney who specializes in auto accidents, please contact us. We at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley have over 50 years of experience in litigation and at trial. Our record of success demonstrates our level of expertise. We would be happy to schedule a free consultation to answer your questions, explain your legal rights and how best to protect them.

(Source: East Bay Times)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP


Weather conditions can have a huge impact on driver safety. It can affect driver visibility and control as well the vehicle’s maneuverability, stability, and traction. Rain, high winds and extreme temperatures affect roadway conditions, pavement friction and the flow of traffic, all of which can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Weather conditions affect roadways, the flow of traffic and the operational decisions that follow.

In an average year there are more than 5,748,000 car crashes occurring on U.S. roadways. Statistics show that in approximately 1,259.000 (22%) of these accidents, weather played a role. Weather-related traffic collisions are defined as car crashes that happen in bad weather. It could be fog, rain, snow, sleet, heavy crosswinds, the wind blowing sand, debris or snow across the road, and/or slick/slushy pavement caused by rain, snow, or ice. As a result of these weather-related collisions, nearly 6,000 people lose their lives and more than 445,000 are injured every year.   

Auto accident lawyer
Auto Accident

The overwhelming majority of these accidents occur when it’s raining and on wet pavement: 46% occur when it’s raining and 73% occur on wet pavement. Other weather-related collisions happen during typical winter weather conditions: 3% happen in the fog, 13% happen on icy roadways, 14% happen on snowy/slushy roads and 17% happen during sleet or snow storms.

What Drivers Should Do to Stay Safe

Everyone’s driving is affected by extreme weather. Heavy fog, rain, snow, sleet, ice and dust will all diminish your visibility.

Of all the various weather conditions that driver’s face, fog is considered the most treacherous. If you find yourself driving in heavy fog, slow down and turn on your car’s low-beam lights. If the fog is so thick that you barely have any visibility, pull off the road to safety and wait until the fog lifts to resume driving.

When it first starts drizzling, raining or snowing, slow down because this is exactly when roads are the most slippery. When moisture in the air mixes with dust and oil on the road, it can get very slippery, causing reduced traction. Under these conditions you are at risk of losing control of your car.

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It’s not just cold winter weather, rain, sleet, ice and snow that can affect your driving, but high temperatures, heavy winds and glare from the sun can cause problems as well.

Bright sunlight and/or how light reflects on a streaked or dirty windshield will diminish visibility and this puts you at risk. Before starting your car you should remove dew, frost, or ice from not just your windshield, but all the windows as well. 

It’s up to you to ensure that you are able to see clearly and be seen by other drivers. If you’re driving in rain or snow, stop regularly to wipe any mud or snow off all the windows, as well as the side mirrors, headlights and even the taillights. In an abundance of caution, even in daylight during perfectly clear weather, keep your headlights on so that other drivers can see you.

When it’s windy outside it can affect how well you can control the steering. Head winds can slow you down, whereas tail winds will push the car forward, increasing your speed.

Crosswinds can push the car sideways, causing it to swerve. This affects larger vehicles like vans, SUVs and trucks more. If you find yourself driving in a crosswind, slow down and steer very carefully. If heavy winds persist, pull over to safety until the winds die down.

The automobile accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Contra Contra Costa County, San Francisco and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.

(Source: Federal Highway Administration )

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

BRENTWOOD, CA – A two-vehicle traffic accident that occurred on Sunday night in Brentwood left five people injured. A 12-year-old girl who had lost consciousness was transported by air for treatment at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.  

Battalion Chief Craig Auzenne of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) said that the girl had not been wearing her seatbelt when the cars collided. In addition to losing consciousness in the accident, she suffered facial trauma. Her current medical condition has not been released.

Brentwood Crash
Photo Credit: Brentwood Press

The others injured in the accident were two men and two women. They were taken to John Muir Medical Center’s trauma unit in Walnut Creek for treatment of relatively minor injuries.

The crash happened on Sand Creek Road at 6:30 p.m. just outside the entrance of the Streets of Brentwood Shopping Center. Brentwood police who responded to the call had little to go on regarding what caused the accident since many of the people involved didn’t speak English. The investigation is ongoing with the help of a translator.

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The two vehicles that collided at the intersection were a silver Nissan Sentra and a silver Toyota Corolla. There were two occupants in the Nissan and five in the Toyota. One of the cars had been going east on Sand Creek Road after exiting State Route 4. It has yet to be determined what direction the other vehicle had been travelling.

According to Auzenne, this accident is considered a tier 1 mass casualty incident. Six medical units as well as engines from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and ECCFPD were sent to the scene, along with the CALSTAR rescue helicopter, which landed and took off from the Sprouts parking lot.

At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have 50 years of litigation and trial experience. We have the expertise and a proven track record of success. If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

(Source: Brentwood Press)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel and O'Malley

EL SOBRANTE, CA – A school bus filled with special needs children was involved in a collision with two other vehicles on a road in El Sobrante on Tuesday, causing injuries to 15 people, with two of them reportedly in critical condition, according to authorities.

The bus driver, who is currently pregnant, and seven kids were among the 15 injured in the traffic accident, although the fire department initially said that no children were hurt. A school bus, Volkswagen car and Chevy pickup truck were all involved in the collision officials from the California Highway Patrol said.

School Bus Crash
Photo: NBC

The collision at Lois Lane and San Pablo Dam Road was called in at 8:11 a.m. According to Contra Costa Fire, a medic vac. helicopter and four ambulances were immediately sent to the scene.

Slick slippery roads from recent rainy weather may have contributed to the collision, according to authorities. 

“The driver of the Volkswagen slowed down for some unknown reason, causing the driver of the Chevy pickup to veer off trying to avoid the VW, but colliding with it anyway,” according to CHP Officer Hannah Walcott.

Once the Chevy hit the Volkswagen, the driver of the Chevy pickup lost control and crashed into the school bus, head on.

A gentleman living near San Pablo Dam Road witnessed the crash just as it occurred since he happened to be driving by.

El Sobrante Bus Crash
Photo: NBC News

He told a reporter for KPIX 5, “I was on my way to Starbucks when I suddenly heard a loud crash right behind me. I looked back and saw that the bus and two other vehicles had collided. I immediately stopped, got out of my car and ran to the bus to offer aid. The bus driver, who appeared pregnant, was in a state of panic. I did everything I could to help and could tell that it was extremely traumatic for everyone on the scene,” he said.

The two individuals in critical condition are someone who was in the Chevy pickup truck and someone in the VW, which was crushed. Both were transported to Walnut Creek’s John Muir Medical Center, according to Fire Inspector Steve Aubert.

According to Steve Aubert of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, the bus driver and seven children were transported to a local hospital with apparent minor injuries, but they all required a medical evaluation.  
Aubert said the school bus was transporting children who attend a special education school located in Contra Costa County.

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Also transported to a hospital were one adult and two children that had been in another vehicle.
Early information reported by the CHP suggested that there was oil on the road after the crash, but that it had been contained.

The investigation is ongoing as to what actually led to the collision.

If you have been seriously injured due to someone else's negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the law offices of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley today. We provide free consultations in order to evaluate your case and discuss the legal options available to you.

(Source: NBC)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP 

Roads in the Bay Area are becoming more dangerous, not just for drivers trying to navigate the crowded highways, but for pedestrians and cyclists, as well who are increasingly getting killed making their way through city streets.

A recent report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the regional agency for transportation planning, reveal that the number of deadly crashes involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians on Bay Area roads increased 43% from 2010 – 2016.

Highway 4 Crash
Highway 4 Crash

MTC researcher David Vautin said, “There are definitely more people living in the Bay Area and using the roads, which may be responsible for a portion of the increase. Plus, more drivers are coming in from further away, on long boring commutes.”

The increase in the area’s population and the longer distances commuters are driving still cannot account for the increase in the number of people being killed on Bay Area roads and highways during those years, according to Vautin. In 2010 there were 318 fatal crashes, which rose to 455 in 2016. In five out of those six years, the fatalities increased and this was after declines during the previous four years. However, 2016 wasn’t the year with the most because there were 509 deadly crashes in 2003, which was the high point in the 16 years that the study spanned. 

Some traffic experts think there are more “distracted drivers,” with people using their cell phones to make calls, send text messages or check Facebook while driving, he explained. While others blame the decrease in life-saving technology after the widespread adoption of anti-lock brakes, shatterproof windshields and seat belts. New breakthroughs have not been implemented to the same extent.  

But, at the end of the day, the real problem is basic human error, according to Stephanie Mak, an MTC data analyst. In analyzing reports of fatal collisions that occurred between 2010 and 2016, she discovered three major culprits: excessive speed, unsafe turns and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Mak concluded that it was “unsafe behavior on the part of drivers” that caused the majority of fatal crashes, nothing more, nothing less.

This situation is not exclusive to the Bay Area. Across California and the nation at large, fatal collisions have been on the increase ever since the recession, according to spokesman Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety. He said that deadly traffic collisions rose 33% in California between 2010 and 2016, adding that this wasn’t totally unexpected.

What usually happens is that in an economic down turn, fewer people are on the roads traveling or commuting for recreation or work. Once the economy improves, people start hitting the roads more often.

“We’re basically returning to pre-recession figures,” he said. “However, there is a real danger that we could move beyond that.”

Alameda Crash
Alameda Crash

Cochran went on to say that recent technological developments, like interactive dashboards in cars can be very distracting. But other automatic innovations, such as “driver-assist” technology in the form of alarms that sound when you are about to collide with another vehicle or when you swerve out of your lane, can certainly help, he added.

However, these highly advanced features are not prevalent in most vehicles. Driverless cars, which are being touted as the no-collision option, are many years away from being adopted by the masses.

Until that time comes, Mak has been conferring with other officials working in regional transportation planning agencies as well as her colleagues at the state to determine what they are doing to lower the numbers of fatal crashes. She’s trying to figure out what could specifically be done better in the Bay Area. In the end, it could be more effective enforcement for impaired drivers and those who speed, she said. Or, possibly more campaigns and outreach to better educate motorists.

Fatal Truck Crash
Fatal Truck Crash

There are some cities in which residents and business owners are speaking up about their desire for safer streets, wanting their streets designed to be safer. San Jose, Fremont and San Francisco have decided to join the “Vision Zero” traffic safety movement, which is promoting an effort to redesign city roads and highways in ways that will eliminate deadly collisions.

The roads that have already been redesigned seem to be making a difference, according to Cathy DeLuca, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group, Walk SF. In 2014, the city of San Francisco enacted Vision Zero as a policy. As a result, the number of deadly crashes in 2016 went down, according to preliminary data. DeLuca remarked that figures for 2017 look promising, with approximately 33% fewer deaths having occurred on roads so far this year.  

Ginger Jui, spokeswoman for Bike East Bay, a nonprofit group advocating for cyclists, said that there are more cyclists than ever navigating the roads in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and this could be the reason for the increase in fatal crashes. However, she commented that the addition of protected bike lanes and adjustments to city streets designed to slow down speeding vehicles are definitely working to save lives.

She said, “Whenever you can reduce speeding, it benefits everyone on the road.”

The auto accident lawyers at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley are very experienced in this area of the law and highly respected in the legal community. We provide our legal expertise to people throughout Northern California from our offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Contra Costa County. Please reach out to us if you or a family member has been in an auto accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another. We will gladly offer you our legal advice and expertise.

(Source: Santa Cruz Sentinal)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

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