WalkFirst is part of the Vision Zero program targeting ways to reengineer the City of San Francisco to reduce personal injuries to pedestrians from vehicle collisions. 170 locations have been identified as the highest priorities and they are being corrected over the next five years. As personal injury attorneys in San Francisco, we’ve been following along with these plans excitedly. WalkFirst is focusing on Engineering, Enforcement, and Education to reduce the number of fatalities and personal injuries to pedestrians and we think it’s great!
Engineering to Reduce Personal Injuries to Pedestrians with WalkFirst
Many of the changes you will see in San Francisco revolve around intersections with Stop signs and crosswalks. If you’re wondering why that is, much of the WalkFirst data was created in conjunction with SFMTA Municipal Transportation Agency. Their San Francisco 2012-2015 Collisions Report released in November of 2016 showed many non-fatal injury collisions with pedestrians revolved around exactly that (no. of collisions): crosswalks (1,305), Stop signs (364), and violations of the traffic signals (1,101). Correcting these three things would correct 23% of pedestrian personal injuries from vehicle collisions. In an effort to reduce these incidents, the WalkFirst initiative includes pulling back Stop and Yield lines, painting curbs red near crosswalks, and more pedestrian islands.
Speed is understandably at the top of the list for the causes of pedestrian personal injuries caused by vehicle collisions (2,199 or 18%). To aid pedestrians in crosswalks when the car coming at them is speeding, high visibility crosswalks and HAWK Beacons are also being added along with more medians. But until these tools are in place, remember to look carefully and make sure the drivers see you before you step off of the curb.
These preventative tools have been engineered to reduce the number of collisions with pedestrians and tested with great success in other urban cities. The HAWK Beacon has reduced collisions as much as 69% and pedestrian islands as much as 56%. Altering a traffic signal to have a separate left turn phase can reduce collisions with pedestrians at an intersection by 48%. Expect to see these changes in the “High Injury Corridors” of San Francisco as WalkFirst and Vision Zero continue to bring the number of personal injuries and fatalities down to zero. We’ve taken the pledge to support these initiatives, have you?
Law Enforcement to Reduce Personal Injuries to Pedestrians with WalkFirst
Both WalkFirst and Vision Zero have the City and County law officials working with the initiatives to bring about the needed changes. After identifying the top causes of pedestrian collisions (there are nine top factors in collisions with personal injuries and the “Focus on Five” linked to collisions with fatalities), SFPD committed 50% of traffic enforcement to these identified most dangerous traffic behaviors. Data from other metropolitan areas with similar initiatives have found enforcement with education can lead to a 23% reduction in vehicle collisions with pedestrians. This includes red light cameras which have already led to a reduction in severe and fatal traffic injuries at their intersections.
WalkFirst and Vision Zero Education
Every day in San Francisco, about 3 people are hit by cars while walking and we have four times the national average of pedestrian fatalities for our traffic fatalities. WalkFirst and Vision Zero along with the City of San Francisco have all launched campaigns to educate the public about the issues with traffic safety in San Francisco. We are all pedestrians every day. Here at Rahman Law PC, we advocate for safer streets in our community for pedestrians and bicyclists and actively participate in WalkFirst and Vision Zero. As personal injury attorneys, we see the reality of these injuries every day and know that change is needed. If you would like more information, please visit these resources: