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Killers of Bay Area Pedestrians Face Little Consequences

The Bay Area has the nation's third highest rate of pedestrian deaths over the last decade. And one-third of those killed between 2007-11 were in a crosswalk when struck. However most drivers at fault faced no serious consequences.

Zusha Elinson reports on the findings of an in-depth Center for Investigative Reporting review of the Bay Area's 434 pedestrian fatalities from 2007 through 2011. In the majority of fatal pedestrian crashes where a driver violation was at fault, no charges were filed. And in those minority of cases where charges were filed, "less than 60 percent had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day, an automatic penalty in drunk driving arrests."

"Walkers are perhaps the most unprotected users of the transportation system," says Elinson. "The human body is no match for 3,000 pounds of speeding steel. Autopsy reports routinely describe blood-soaked clothing, fractured skulls, cracked ribs and broken limbs. In the Bay Area, minorities make up a majority of the dead, and the elderly are more likely to die walking than people from other age groups."

"Pedestrian advocacy organizations typically are small and underfunded, especially when compared with lobbies for automobile drivers or even bicyclists. For that and other reasons, laws protecting pedestrians have been watered down over the past century. So has the application of those laws."

"Families of the victims and advocates say that until there are more serious consequences for drivers who kill pedestrians, the deaths will continue."

Full Story: Bay Area drivers who kill pedestrians rarely face punishment, analysis finds

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Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Jurors Unwilling To Convict

That was given as a major reason for failing to take these cases to work, expressed on yesterday's KQED Forum by some of the four guests during this call-in radio show.

Guests:

  • * Adithya Sambamurthy, video producer for the Center for Investigative Reporting.
  • * David Grant, board member of California WALKS, a statewide organization of affiliated nonprofit and volunteer groups that advocate for pedestrians, and former chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Regional Pedestrian Committee and the MTC Citizens Pedestrian Safety Committee
  • * Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy organization
  • * Rajiv Bhatia, environmental health director for the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health; but he joins us in his capacity as a physician and public health practitioner
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