Street Safe Act 2017 for Pedestrian Accident Prevention

pedestrian accident lawyerLast month, Assemblyman David Chiu said what I’ve been saying for some time now:

Speed kills.”

(See my article titled “Speed Kills” in Plaintiff Magazine here)

But I’m sure I’m not the first to say it.  The important thing is that Assemblyman Chiu has joined forces with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, the City and County of San Francisco, the City and County of San Jose, Walk San Francisco, and other officials and organizations to do something about it!

They have announced the Safe Streets Act of 2017.  It’s a pilot program to reduce speeding utilizing cameras.  The technique captures a photo of vehicles traveling over the speed threshold and is being used in other locations across the country.  It is known as “ASE” and claims to be proven to reduce collisions resulting in catastrophic injury or death.  The pilot program will be located in areas known for speed related in collisions.

In the press release announcing the Street Safe Act 2017, it was reported that in San Francisco, an average of 30 people are killed per year while approximately 500 more are hospitalized in traffic collisions.  It did not specify pedestrians from vehicle drivers and passengers, but we know from other studies that in 2013, 21 pedestrians were struck and killed in San Francisco.  The numbers of pedestrian accidents in San Francisco are staggering and while speed is a contributing factor in 30% of deaths caused by a traffic collision nationwide, in San Francisco in 2013, speed was the #1 cause of fatalities (sfmta.org/visionzero; SFPD Crossroads Database 2010-2014.).

So yes, speed kills.  But people keep speeding.  The ASE cameras might help make the streets safer.

This is the kind of technology that might put pedestrian accident lawyers in San Francisco and San Jose out of business you say?  We frankly hope it will!  It is part of the Vision Zero plan, a safety initiative with a two-year strategy in San Francisco for engineering, enforcement, and education with the vision that no one should die simply by trying to get around.  At Rahman Law PC, we are advocates for safer roads.  Shaana Rahman is on the Board of Walk San Francisco and we participate openly in the mission to make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair assisted pedestrians, and even motorcyclists; all of the modes of transportation where the human is more exposed and more likely to have a catastrophic injury in an accident with a vehicle.  We are pedestrian accident lawyers to protect your rights when it’s needed and we’re excited about the Street Safe Act of 2017 because it has the potential to educate the public about road safety through enforcement which could save lives in the future.

Catastrophic Pedestrian Accident on Market Street Secures Improvements in San Francisco

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Thu Phan’s tragic death.  She was killed while crossing Market Street at 7th in her wheelchair.  A ban on left turns onto Market Street had already been implemented to help mitigate the dangers of the intersection with an exemption covering City vehicles under certain duties.

The family became active in fighting for safety improvements after their catastrophic loss.  Thu Phan’s sister reached out to Human Streets, Walk San Francisco, and San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets.  Walk San Francisco reports that since the catastrophic pedestrian accident that took Thu Phan’s life, Walk San Francisco and their Vision Zero Coalition have worked to address the conditions that lead to her death.

As a result of these pedestrian advocacy efforts, San Francisco has now implemented:

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs): walk signals to provide people crossing with a head start at six intersections along Market, including 7th;
  • More visible turn restriction signage at Market & 7th;
  • A City Administrator’s policy memo, which explicitly states that City drivers are not exempt from turn restrictions (a key factor in Thu Phan’s death);
  • A new, required driver training and education program for all City staff that specifically highlights how to drive safely around seniors and people with disabilities.

This last safety improvement deserves an extra comment.  Seniors are five times more at risk of a serious/fatal injury as pedestrians than younger adults according to information gathered by Walk San Francisco.

Here are a few more statistics that may make you realize the importance of a pedestrian accident lawyer, or a catastrophic injury attorney for when a loved one is fatally or catastrophically injured by a vehicle:

  • In 2015, 5,376 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes – nearly 15 people per day (NHTSA)
  • California is the state with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities (NHTSA)
  • 60% of all San Francisco’s traffic deaths are people walking – 4X the national average (Walk SF)

If you or a loved one is hit by a vehicle, know your rights and speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer in San Francisco or Paso Robles.  At Rahman Law PC, we offer personalized attention to every client in a supportive and respectful way.  We have offices in San Francisco and Paso Robles, California.

Speed Kills: Pedestrian Collisions Can’t Be Ignored

rahman law in plaintiff magazine

The lawyers at Rahman Law are committed advocates of pedestrian rights, which means we represent pedestrians who have been hit by cars in California, particularly in urban areas on the central coast like San Francisco.  But you don’t have to be in an urban area to find yourself the victim in need of a pedestrian accident lawyerWe are all pedestrians.  Think about it: 100% of our commutes involve walking, even if it’s just to and from our car.

Yet we don’t normally associate ourselves as pedestrians and this mindset has led to a tragic “blame the victim” social stigma.  Honestly, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone was struck by a vehicle?  Right now, you’re probably wondering if they were playing Pokémon Go with their eyes glued on their smartphone and not traffic, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that the victim was at fault – EVER.  Both sides have a story, and in a situation where tonnage rules, the pedestrian is the one to sustain the more serious injuries.

Shaana Rahman, a pedestrian accident lawyer and the principal and founder of Rahman Law PC, was published last month in Plaintiff Magazine regarding her viewpoint as a pedestrian accident lawyer representing the family of a child hit in a crosswalk on his way to school.  The local media immediately fell to whispering about the possibility that the child was not paying enough attention to his surroundings and locals wanted to know if the boy was even in a crosswalk or had been jaywalking.  This struck Ms. Rahman as yet another case where blame was immediately thrown onto the victim falsely.  Where has our empathy for pedestrian accident victims gone?

Here is an excerpt from the magazine about her insight as a pedestrian accident lawyer in this instance:

The fact is one case in particular has stuck with me over the years and caused me to re-examine pedestrian cases. It was a case in which I represented the family of a 13-year-old child hit in a crosswalk on his way to school. The boy, hit by a young driver coming off a late shift at a Krispy Kreme, lived but suffered irreparable brain damage that left him in a persistent vegetative state. The first thing that struck me were the initial whispers in the media and from locals speculating that the child was wearing headphones, or may have been a foot or so outside the crosswalk, or perhaps darted out into the street. None of those things were true, of course, but it was interesting to witness the subtle bias we have in urban areas against pedestrians, despite the fact we are all pedestrians at some point or another. For a long time, we have had a very “blame-the-victim” mentality when it comes to pedestrian collisions.

Also, despite the clear responsibility of the driver for the collision, my clients insisted that their son wouldn’t have been hit if there had been a stop sign at the intersection, like the residents of the neighborhood had been demanding. This led me down a road of many, many public records act requests and fights with the City Attorneys’ office. The evidence I uncovered was really astounding.

You can read more about the injured boy and the case Ms. Rahman fought in her article Speed Kills: The Road to Stopping Pedestrian Fatalities Begins with the Speed Limit in July’s issue of Pedestrian Magazine here:

Plaintiff Magazine Pedestrial Accident Lawyer

To Veto or Not to Veto?

Not too long ago, Governor Jerry Brown aided making California a safer biking and walking community by passing the Three Feet for Safety Act, effective since September 16, 2014, which requires drivers to give at least three feet’s space in between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator when overtaking or passing a bicycle. The approval of this bill was a significant accomplishment to the growing bike-safety movement that persistently promoted street safety through campaigns such as “Be Nice, Look Twice” and “Vision Zero,” which encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to take matter into their own hands and take extra caution when sharing the street with motor vehicles. However, despite Governor Brown’s approval of AB 1371, three other bills that purported to improve road safety have recently been vetoed:

SB 1151: This bill would add Section 42011 to the Vehicle Code, which would “require that an additional fine of $35 be imposed if the violation occurred when passing a school building or school grounds, as specified, and the highway is posted with a standard “SCHOOL” warning sign and an accompanying sign notifying motorists that increased penalties apply for traffic violations that are committed within that school zone. In addition, this bill would require “that these additional fines be deposited in the State Transportation Fund for purposes of funding school zone safety projects within the Active Transportation Program.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“Increasing traffic fines as the method to pay transportation fund activities is a regressive increase that affects poor people disproportionately. Making safety improvements in school zones is obviously important, but not by increasing traffic fines.”

(http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml)

AB 2337: This bill would prohibit the department from reinstating a person’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle until the expiration of 2 years after the date of revocation and until that person gives proof of financial responsibility, when that person is the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or permanent, serious injury to another person, and the department receives a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of failing to fulfill the requirements described above.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“While I consider hit-and-run collisions to be very significant events, current penalties seem to be at appropriate levels.”

(http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2337)

AB 1532: This bill would provide that a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident where a person is struck shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and provide specified information including, but not limited to, his or her name and current residence address. A violation of these provisions would be either an infraction, punishable by a fine not exceeding $250, or a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for 6 months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both, and the Department of Motor Vehicles would be required to immediately suspend the driver’s license of a convicted driver for 6 months.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“California has a very extensive set of criminal laws and penalties. This measure would create a new crime that includes a fine and penalty assessments up to $4,231 and possible jail time of six months. I don’t find sufficient justification for creating a new crime when no injury to person or property occurred. I think current law is adequate.”

(http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1532)

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Vision Zero


Slow-Watch-Pedestrians-Sign-K-5169

Despite campaigns such as “Be Nice, Look Twice,” which encourages pedestrians to always be aware of the presence of automobiles and take caution, the statistics of accidents in San Francisco is still frightening- vehicles struck more than 800 people resulting in the loss of 21 lives in 2013.  Walk San Francisco reported that despite the city’s A+ grade score in walkability, pedestrian safety remains a D+. However, Walk San Francisco recognizes the city’s efforts in improving street safety, giving San Francisco an overall score of C+.

Vision Zero is one of San Francisco’s efforts to improving street safety. Vision Zero originated in Sweden in the late 1990s, and assumed that accidents are the “result of human error that can be lessened, if not eliminated, through better engineering, education, traffic law enforcement and analysis of data.” San Francisco is one of three cities in the United States to adopt this plan, which aims to completely eliminating pedestrian fatalities by 2024. By analyzing accident “hotspots,” which the city transportation agency and health department stated tend to be “wide, one-way streets that drivers tend to treat like freeways,” Vision Zero advocates purport to work with various agencies to make the streets of San Francisco safer.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Walk San Francisco, Shaana Rahman is committed to reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.

If you ever need a pedestrian injury attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/06/6537106/san- francisco-works-to-improve.html)

Increase in Traffic Citations

There seems to be a profound effort to finally work towards making San Francisco a truly pedestrian-friendly city and get its name off the list of 20 least safe cities for drivers and pedestrians. Police Chief Greg Suhr reports that from January 2013 to February 2014, there was a 53 percent increase in citations citywide. The police department has given officers orders to prioritize transit safety; all 10 police stations now emphasize catching traffic violators.

In the past month alone, a total of 10,989 citations have been handed out, most of which were given for speeding and failing to yield while making a left or U-turn . Police officers are watching out for the five traffic violations that are the leading causes of collisions: 1) running a red light 2) failure to halt at a stop sign 3) violating a pedestrian right of way 4) failure to yield making a left or U-turn 5) speeding. However, keep in mind that not only drivers are subject to receiving citation tickets, but also pedestrians and bicyclists who fail to abide by city traffic codes.

The efforts by various organizations, such as Walk San Francisco, to make San Francisco’s streets safer is paying off through the City’s recognition of the fatal consequences of weak traffic patrol and prioritization of securing and reinforcing traffic codes.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Walk San Francisco, Shaana Rahman is committed to reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(source: Kwong, Jessica. “Cracking Down on Traffic Scofflaws.” The Examiner 14 Mar. 2014: 1. Print.)

Be Nice, Stop Collisions

On Tuesday, December 31, 2013, what were you doing?

Universally known as New Year’s Eve, you most likely used this day to review the good and the bad of 2013, remembering what you did right and noting things that could have been done differently. Perhaps you were trying to fit in some last minute fun before the New Year.

However, Sophia Liu, 6, and Zhen Guang Ng, 86, did not share this agenda. Sophia Liu was hit by a car in a crosswalk at Polk and Ellis. Zhen Guang Ng was run over by a car in a crosswalk at Rolph and Naples. Both were killed as a result of the accident the day before the New Year.

Collisions caused by motor vehicles that result in the deaths of pedestrians are common in San Francisco- an average of 900 pedestrians are hit by automobiles annually. These collisions have focused attention into making San Francisco a pedestrian-friendly city. These efforts include the previous Mayor Gavin Newsom’s executive directive that called for significantly reducing the number of fatal injuries in half by 2021 and the current Mayor Ed Lee’s $17 million contribution throughout the next five years to “various pedestrian safety improvements.”

Despite the city officials’ efforts to improve the safety of pedestrians and reduce the number of fatal collisions, it seems the efforts are slow in motion. Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk San Francisco, states that all the planning to improve safety is great but the action behind the planning is lacking.   As a member of the Board of Directors of Walk San Francisco, Shaana Rahman is committed to reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.

While city officials work to turn San Francisco into a truly pedestrian friendly city, let us, drivers and pedestrians, contribute by taking part in Mayor Lee’s “Be Nice, Look Twice” public awareness campaign.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/In-S-F-pedestrian-deaths-shine-light-on-street-5146884.php#photo-5729337)

Support Pedestrian Safety Projects at Today’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee Meeting

In April we blogged about Mayor Ed Lee’s new plan to support pedestrian safety in San Francisco in our New Pedestrian Safety Plan Outlined on Walk to Work Day post. It is the unfortunate truth however than many of the promised projects and improvements will  be tied up in bureaucratic red tape for years and that those that are lucky enough to make it through the maze even partially intact end up costing much more than expected.

To circumvent the bureaucratic quicksand, Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced a four-part pedestrian safety legislation. The legislation will create a centralized Street Design Review Committee, a resolution calling for city agencies to modernize street code provisions, better coordinate their efforts around public projects, and formulate clear procedures, an ordinance making it easier for developers to build pedestrian safety projects and gift them to the city, and an ordinance amending the Fire Code to ensure that pedestrian safety projects are not unnecessarily impeded by the code’s definition of minimum street width.

Join Walk SF in supporting these ordinances by attending the Land Use and Economic Development Committee Meeting, Monday, June 3 at 1: 30 p.m. at City Hall in Room 263. 

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source:

http://walksf.org/

Drivers Who Kill Pedestrians Rarely Face Consequences

Accidents happen. It is an unfortunate truth. But accidents that happen as a result of a person carelessly wielding a dangerous weapon are punishable by law. People who are charged and convicted in accidental shooting deaths face severe consequences and often serve jail time. Yet, in the Bay Area, drivers who are charged in accidental pedestrian deaths often walk away without any consequences. Cars can be as dangerous as guns, oftentimes more so. 3,000 pounds of metal traveling 25-60 miles an hour is a undoubtedly deadly weapon. The broken bodies of the people struck by vehicles can attest to that. Unfortunately, the Bay Area has one of the highest pedestrian casualty rates in the entire nation. In the last 10 years pedestrians have accounted for more than 25% of the traffic-related fatalities in the Bay Area. Only the notorious New York and Los Angeles areas outpace us in pedestrian fatalities. Of these 434 pedestrian fatalities, 1/3 were in crosswalks when they were killed. That’s nearly 144 people killed while crossing in a safe zone, nearly three times the national average.

Adding insult to injury (or death), 60% of the 238 motorists found to be at fault or suspected of a crime in the death of a pedestrian faced no criminal charges. When drivers did face criminal charges, punishment was often light. Even more confounding, licenses were rarely suspended. Of those few people who were charged with a crime, less than 60% had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day. 40% of those convicted faced no more than a day in jail. “If there isn’t a penalty, the message is that it’s all right to run people over and kill them,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director and the sole paid employee of nonprofit advocacy group Walk San Francisco on whose Board of Directors Shaana Rahman sits. “There’s a joke from New York that maybe isn’t very funny: If you want to kill someone and get away with it, use a car – and that’s true here as well.”

The disturbing truth of the matter is that by law each and every one of the 238 motorists found to be at fault are guilty. They have indeed committed a crime and should be prosecuted as such. However, D.A.s often refuse to bring charges because they feel that they could never get a jury to convict. As such, reckless drivers are rarely brought to justice and pedestrians continue to die in avoidable accidents at unbelievably high rates. To drive is to take the lives of others into your hands. The safety of the pedestrians around you becomes your responsibility. When that responsibility is blatantly ignored and someone is killed or seriously injured as a result, the law requires justice and action, not a blind-eye and shrug of regret as nothing is done and that family is left to grieve with neither.

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source:

http://cironline.org/reports/bay-area-drivers-who-kill-pedestrians-rarely-face-punishment-analysis-finds-4420

New Pedestrian Safety Plan Outlined on Walk to Work Day

The new Pedestrian Safety Plan cannot be implemented soon enough. Since the last post was published on this blog another pedestrian has been killed on San Francisco’s city streets.

The proposed strategy tackles pedestrian safety as an interdepartmental task, pooling resources and expertise to bring about the most substantial improvement. Instead of picking one safety improvement and implementing it throughout the city, the plan picks streets and corridors that have proven to be especially dangerous for pedestrians and makes multiple improvements in those targeted areas, creating an overall safer walking environment.

The long term goals of the initiative are to reduce serious and fatal pedestrian injuries by 25% by 2016 and 50% by 2021 especially in those areas where pedestrian fatalities are unacceptably high. The program also aims to make San Francisco a more walkable city in general, increasing the number of walking trips by 25% by 2021.

According to the SF Examiner, “the strategy calls for such initiatives as adding crossing time for pedestrians at intersections, reopening crosswalks, upgrading curb ramps and adding countdown timers at hundreds of intersections. The strategy also includes targeting speeders and red-light runners, along with those who fail to yield to pedestrians.”

If you ever need a pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Source:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2013/04/san-francisco-rolling-out-plan-improve-pedestrian-safety

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/04/02/after-6-ped-deaths-in-3-months-sf-needs-city-hall-action-on-street-safety/