Other Southern California counties are also among the nation's most dangerous
According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Los Angeles County is by far the most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians.
A new analysis published by the Auto Insurance Center showed that Los Angeles County had more pedestrian fatalities than any other in 2014 - and by a huge margin. LA County's 281 deaths nearly tripled the number of fatalities in second-place Maricopa County, the home of Phoenix, Arizona. San Diego and San Bernardino also ranked in the top six.
Given that Los Angeles is well-known for its heavy traffic and is the second-largest city in America, it is perhaps unsurprising that the city has such a high rate of pedestrian accidents. Hit-and-run drivers, an epidemic in Los Angeles, also contribute to the many pedestrian fatalities.
The nation's single most dangerous intersection for pedestrians is also in Los Angeles County. Specifically, it's the intersection of Vincent Street and Central Court in Redondo Beach. It's adjacent to the beach and within a few blocks of a park, two schools, a library and two churches, making it a major hub of foot traffic.
Pedestrians and motorists share responsibility
California law lays out expectations for both motorists and pedestrians to avoid collisions. According to the California Vehicle Code, motorists are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks, exercise due care when approaching a pedestrian in a crosswalk and refrain from blocking crosswalks or sidewalks.
Pedestrians, meanwhile, are required to cross only at marked and unmarked crosswalks whenever possible and to cross expediently, rather than unnecessarily stopping in the middle of the crosswalk. When a pedestrian must cross a road where there is no crosswalk, he or she is required to yield the right of way to vehicles.
Speed is a risk factor in all types of accidents; speeding motorists are not only more likely to hit pedestrians, but also much more likely to cause serious injuries or death. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also a major risk factor, and it applies to both drivers and walkers. Intoxicated pedestrians are much more likely to be hit.
Distraction plays a role for both motorists and pedestrians. Drivers who text and drive - a primary offense in California - or engage in other distracting behaviors tend to overlook pedestrians, as they're much smaller than vehicles and make much less noise. Pedestrians who text and walk tend to slow down and not walk in a straight line - which can mean they leave the crosswalk entirely.
While both motorists and pedestrians are responsible for sharing the road, it's almost always pedestrians who suffer serious injuries in a collision. Motorists need to obey traffic laws, yield to pedestrians and pay attention - especially when driving through school zones or other areas where children might dart out into traffic. When they don't, injured pedestrians and their loved ones have the right to hold them accountable.