Investigative Report Exposes How Rarely Drivers Who Kill or Injure Pedestrians Are Charged
An in-depth analysis from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) finds that Bay Area drivers who kill pedestrians rarely face any punishment. The analysis reviewed collision data from 2007 through 2011 for five largest Bay Area counties. The report reveals that one-third of pedestrians killed were walking in a crosswalk when they were struck – three times the national average.
During the same five year period studied, the analysis for San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties, also uncovered the disturbing fact that sixty percent of drivers that were at fault, or suspected of being at fault, faced no criminal charges.
Even when drivers were charged for speeding, running stops signs, or not yielding to a pedestrian’s right of way, punishments were extremely light. Over 40 percent of drivers charged did not lose their driver’s licenses, even temporarily.
Listen to an archived radio discussion of this report with Walk San Francisco’s Elizabeth Stampe, California WALKS’ David Grant, San Francisco Dept. of Public Health’s Rajiv Bhatia, and CIR video producer Adithya Sambamurthy on KQED’s Forum.
With pedestrian deaths making up a quarter of traffic fatalities in the Bay Area – a rate outpaced only by New York and Los Angeles – it is clear that the local police and District Attorney are not holding criminally-responsible drivers accountable.
If the City is to meet the goal set in the Mayor’s recently-released Pedestrian Strategy to reduce serious or fatal pedestrian injuries by 25 percent by 2016 and 50 percent by 2021, it will require more than physical improvements alone. The City must step up strategic and targeted police enforcement to put an end to the 20 deaths a year that are a result of walking.
Help Walk SF demand that the SFPD use data to prevent traffic crimes — just like any other crimes — on high-injury corridors and fast roadways like Van Ness, Sloat Boulevard, 19th Avenue, Geary Boulevard, 6th Street, and Ocean Avenu.
Nine people have already been killed by cars this year. The media don’t report it. The police and DA don’t act on it. Without Walk SF, you might not even know this tragic statistic. Only your support will build the pressure needed to put an end to these preventable deaths.
Don’t let the City get away with inaction; tell the police to enforce the laws that protect you, your family, and your friends when you walk.