L.A. Road Fatalities Surge in 2021

Auto Accident / April 15, 2022

After traffic deaths hit a 20-year-high, city officials and safety advocates are searching for answers — and new solutions.

The numbers are undeniably grim — and headed in the wrong direction.

294 people were killed on the road in Los Angeles in 2021, according to data from the LAPD. That number represents a 20-year-high and an increase of 22% from 2020.Of that 294, 132 were pedestrians and 18 were cyclists.

Serious injuries from crashes also reached nearly 1,500 last year, a 30% year-over-year jump.

So what’s behind this unexpected jump? That’s a question being confronted by city leaders and safety advocates alike, both of whom are feeling pressure to curb the rising risks on LA roads.

Safe Road Advocates Criticize the Pace of Road Reform

After the release of the LAPD data, several safety organizations took the opportunity to cast local efforts to create safer roads in an underwhelming light.

According to a recent article in LAist.com about the latest crash data:

“Safety activists believe that work is going far too slowly. Pedestrian and cyclist groups say the city has spent decades prioritizing fast car travel on its streets at the expense of everyone else using the roads — and the rising death toll is the tragic but inevitable result.

“This is not the trajectory of a modern city,” said John Yi, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks. “The last thing we want is to double down on cars while other cities are re-imagining what their street scapes would be without cars.”

The city’s recent history with street safety has seen its share of struggles. Former Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the Vision Zero road safety initiative in 2015, aiming to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2025.

Since then, road fatalities are up 58%.

According to LAist:

“The formula and the campaign that is being run by the city in terms of reducing traffic fatalities to zero is a failure,” said Damian Kevitt, executive director of the nonprofit Streets are for Everyone. “The biggest factor is there’s not the political will to make the hard decisions to save lives.”

John Yi agrees, saying the increase in traffic violence “just goes to show the failure of Vision Zero.”

“It’s a complete explanation of how we failed as a city to really lead on fighting traffic fatalities,” he said.

No Single Defined Cause

Safe street advocates point to a significant rise in speeding and reckless driving, an assertion validated by the rising number of instances where unsafe speed has been cited as a primary or contributing factor in fatal crashes by the LAPD.

Explanations for why speeding is on the rise are varied, though some observers propose the pandemic may have caused people to drive less cautiously. Other safety activists have criticized new vehicles for having too many digital features that can distract drivers.

Regardless of the reason why, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in LA should continue to exercise caution and protect themselves — and avail themselves of experienced legal representation if they are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident through no fault of their own.

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