Source: Riverside County Sheriff Coroner press release
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, California – It’s been a particularly deadly week for pedestrians in Riverside County as four people are killed in three separate crashes in San Jacinto, Palm Springs and Riverside, according to Riverside County Sheriff Coroner press releases.
First on Thursday, about 12:30 p.m., Carmen Pineda, 37, was struck and killed by a pickup truck as she walked on the dirt shoulder of Arlington Avenue just west of Fairhaven Drive. The Dodge pickup truck hit Pineda after swerving off road in an effort to avoid a head-on crash with a black pickup truck that the driver said crossed over the center lane into oncoming traffic.
The driver of the black pickup truck fled the scene, but the driver of the Dodge remained with the victim at the scene. Pineda was transported to Riverside Community Hospital where she died of her injuries about 1:30 p.m.
Next, on Friday night about 7:30 p.m., World War II Veteran Robert Mathiasen, 87, of Goleta who was visiting Palm Springs for a bomb squadron reunion was struck and killed as he crossed North Palm Canyon Drive with his wife Lorraine Mathiasen, 83.
The couple was crossing the street between Via Esculela and Vista Chino when they were both struck by a Ford Taurus. They were transported to Desert Regional Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit where he died nearly two hours later at 9:18 p.m. and she remained listed in critical condition, but later died on Monday.
Then at about 6:20 p.m. on Sunday in San Jacinto, Karla Bracamonte, 29, of Moreno Valley was struck and killed by the driver of a 2004 Dodge Durango SUV at the intersection of 7th Street just west of Grand Avenue. San Jacinto Police Department officers pronounced the young woman dead at the scene after aggressive efforts to resuscitate her failed. The driver of the SUV was not injured in the crash.
Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise
Source: California Statewide Integrated Traffic Report, National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration
Indeed pedestrian accidents have been on the rise in the United States, but researchers do not know what is behind the dramatic increase. The deadliest states for pedestrians are California, followed by Texas and Florida. Pedestrians need to be especially cautious on our roadways because they are so vulnerable, said West Thomas, founder of the Thomas Law Firm.
“Drivers who hit pedestrians may be negligent for injuring or killing a pedestrian, but as pedestrians we are also required to obey traffic signals and cross safely,” Thomas said. “Being alert and prepared is your best defense, but also drivers need to slow down and be alert for pedestrians.”
National data compiled by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration shows that pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the United States were up 4.9% in 2010 to 4,280 deaths and injuries were up 19% in 2010 to 70,000 people injured. In Riverside County, there were 39 pedestrians killed and 370 injured in 2009 according to the California Highway Patrol Statewide Integrated Traffic Report. In California, there were 598 pedestrians killed and 12,418 injured in 2009.
While there has been no definitive explanation as to why there has been an increase in overall pedestrian traffic accidents in the United States, one research study specifically looked at pedestrian traffic accidents involving those wearing headphones.
The study was headed up by Richard Lichenstein, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The research shows that serious injuries to pedestrians are more likely if they are listening to music on headphones such as iPods.
The study reviewed some 116 traffic accidents involving pedestrians who were killed or injured by a vehicle or train while wearing headphones in the United States. The study focused on accidents that took place between the years 2004 to 2011.
The results showed the majority of the cases or (68%) were male and roughly two-thirds (67%) of victims were under 30 years old. In about one third (29%) the driver sounded a horn before the crash, but the pedestrian did not hear it. Also, (55%) of the cases studied involved a train and (89%) were located in urban counties.
“Ultimately the study showed that pedestrians using cell phones or listening to iPods are isolated from outside stimuli and so distracted that their behavior was less cautious and more risky than normal when crossing roadways,” Thomas said.
California Pedestrian Law
When pedestrians are in our roadways it is incumbent upon both the driver and the pedestrian to be aware of one another and proceed carefully. Under California Vehicle Code Section 21950, drivers are required “to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”
However, the law also requires a pedestrian to exercise “due care for his or her safety.” The law says that pedestrians create a hazard if they “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle.”
The law further explains that pedestrians are not supposed to “unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”
Keep in mind that the “driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
Certainly pedestrian accidents occur for many reasons and it’s impossible to prevent them all from happening, but our roadways will ultimately be safer if everyone follows the rules of the road and drivers slow down.
The Thomas Law Firm can be reached at 1-855-ASK–WEST. For over 30 years, the firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought for clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, at-work injuries and more. The firm has offices in Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada