The number of pedestrians injured or killed in traffic accidents has been rising steadily for years. California has more pedestrian accidents than any other state. Previously, we wrote about some of the reasons for this increase, including how more people are walking for health benefits and an increased use of mobile devices, which can lead to distracted driving.
City officials targeting street improvements, education initiatives
In addition, Sacramento has its share of dangerous intersections and walkways for pedestrians. Despite its bike-friendly reputation, Sacramento is largely a city built for driving. Sacramento has certain areas in which pedestrians are repeatedly at risk for getting hit by a car.
That is why city leaders are initiating "Vision Zero," a program aimed at eliminating pedestrian fatalities. A similar program in New York City has experienced some success in reducing pedestrian fatalities.
While it is extremely unlikely Sacramento will ever be completely free of pedestrian accidents, the high bar is incentive to immediately lower the number of pedestrian fatalities. In the last five years, 130 pedestrians have lost their lives in accidents. Tragically, these are preventable deaths. No one needs to be injured or killed in a traffic accident, which is why attempts to improve safety are so important to the health of the city.
Sacramento is already taking steps to improve pedestrian safety
The Sacramento Bee recently quoted city traffic chief Hector Barron as saying the program will set up a task force of police officers, firefighters, community leaders and safety advocates to determine what steps can be taken to improve pedestrian safety. While the program is still in its infancy, it is expected to use multiple approaches, including redesigning streets to improve safety, enforcing existing traffic laws and educating the public about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
For example, the Citrus Heights Police Department has been compiling accident information for the last several years involving pedestrians. The department is now placing additional officers where traffic violations are highest in an attempt to improve traffic safety. Project Zero will seek to promote such initiatives across Sacramento.
Safe driving is still the best way to reduce risk
While improving city streets can improve safety, careful driving is still the best way to prevent motor vehicle accidents. Typically dangerous behaviors, including distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding, remain a problem in Sacramento. Until such behaviors are eliminated, it is unlikely pedestrian accidents will be either.