Berkeley Death Shows Inherent Dangers of Crosswalks

Emergency crews rushed 69-year-old Seon O’Neill of North Berkeley to Highland Hospital in Oakland on April 14th after she was struck by a driver while crossing the street at approximately 6:30 P.M. She passed away seven days later. Sadly, occurrences such as this have become more and more common in cities around the country as more and more people choose walking as their method of transportation. Despite increased safety measures and efforts to reduce accidents such as this, pedestrian injuries and fatalities have risen sharply over the last five years.

A recent report released by The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated a double-digit rise in pedestrian fatalities across the country in 2016, with nearly 6,000 incidents compared to 5,400 in 2015. This is a staggering increase from the most recent low point of 4,100, recorded back in 2009. This makes pedestrian deaths the fastest-growing type of traffic fatality in the country, growing even over factors such as speeding and drunk driving. The 2015 to 2016 jump is the steepest year-to-year increase since pedestrian fatality recordkeeping began in the 1970s.

This has led city officials around the country to look for solutions to protect pedestrians, particularly in urban areas where the pedestrian population is far denser. Some cities have tried using new, more visible line patterns at crosswalks to make them more visible to drivers. However, Minnesota state experts claim there is no evidence to support that these new crosswalk patters will make any difference. St. Paul engineers say they haven’t seen a difference in incidents after special markings were placed at one of the city’s busiest pedestrian intersections.

Other cities have tried using flashing lights at crosswalks to grab the attention of drivers, and while this is certainly eye-catching, some people fear drivers are paying more attention to the lights than the pedestrians crossing the street.

A new federal law says that all pedestrian crossing signals must now be retrofitted with a countdown timer to prevent people from running off the curb as the signal is about to expire. Research shows this has been more effective at helping people to cross the street safely.

However, none of these solutions have any impact on what many believe is the biggest cause of the sharp rise in pedestrian accidents: distraction. While drivers in California law forbids drivers from using their cell phone unless they have a hands-free setup, there is no law against pedestrians, and more and more people are walking along roads while staring at the screen of their smartphone. To make matters worse, lots of them also have earbuds restricting their ability to hear what’s going on around them. Distraction is a two-way street, meaning both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to ensure they are paying attention to where they’re going.

So while the California personal injury attorneys at Frantz Law Group represent the family of Ms. O’Neill to ensure they are compensated for her wrongful death, the issue of pedestrian safety remains an outstanding one that municipalities around the country desperately seek a solution to.

With more than 120 years of combined experience, the Frantz Law Group can help you seek the optimal resolution to your case that you deserve. We are determined and relentless in our representation, and fiercely pursue the best possible outcome to your case, no matter how far we must go to get there. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, and have built a reputation and track record of substantial success in all types of personal injury cases, including pedestrian accidents.

If you have been injured as a pedestrian, review your legal options with Frantz Law Group today by calling (855) 930-2626 to receive a free consultation.
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