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Can Vision Zero protect pedestrians' lives in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles, like many major cities across the United States, is participating in a project called "Vision Zero." First begun in Sweden two decades ago, the goal of this traffic safety policy is to eliminate highway accidents and driving errors that cause deaths and injuries.

The multi-pronged approach focuses on employing different strategies that involve principles of engineering, education, traffic law enforcement, equity and evaluation.

Los Angeles has a higher rate of traffic fatalities than most comparably-sized cities across America. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 2-14, They come in second place as the biggest killer of those ranging from 15 to 25.

Every day in L.A., 95 wrecks happen on the highways and roadways, That works out to over 30,000 vehicular accidents a year. In 2013, more than 950 individuals suffered severe injuries in crashes. During that same time frame, another 200-plus died as a result of their injuries from auto accidents around Los Angeles.

Close to half of all the serious injuries and fatalities involve pedestrians and bicyclists. Almost a third of those who get hurt or killed on foot or riding bikes are senior citizens or children. This demographic group —cyclists and pedestrians — are heavily over-represented for their share of fatal injuries. Those on foot and riding bikes are only involved in 14 percent of the total accidents, yet make up nearly 50 percent of fatalities from vehicle accidents.

A basic predictor of survivability in collisions is the speed of the vehicles. When speeds increase from 20 miles per hour to 40 mph the likelihood of a pedestrian surviving the accident drops from 90 percent to 20 percent.

Vision Zero is a laudable programs with lofty goals, but accidents still happen and pedestrians still get killed. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident, you may decide to take legal action against the driver who caused your injuries.

Source: Vision Zero, "Vision Zero Los Angeles: The Facts," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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