Traffic safety assumptions before 2020 were simple: If there are fewer cars on Los Angeles streets, there will be fewer car crashes. And if there are fewer motor vehicle crashes, there will be fewer crash injuries and fatalities. As we all now know, those assumptions were wrong.
Though the level of Los Angeles traffic declined in 2020, the rate of fatal wrecks climbed (increased speed was a major factor) and so traffic fatalities were virtually unchanged from 2019 statistics.
Now that we’ve passed the halfway mark of 2021, we can see that traffic safety hasn’t improved from last year.
According to Los Angeles Police Department data, the city is on pace to eclipse last year’s totals of traffic injuries and deaths.
In other words, when traffic declines in Los Angeles, there’s more speeding, higher crash rates and a higher accident fatality rate. When there are more cars on city streets, there are more accidents and more injuries and fatalities.
We’re caught in a lose-lose situation.
The return of congestion
Seleta Reynolds, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said “congestion is back (and) traffic volumes are creeping back up.”
She said that “really high-speed crashes” that characterized 2020 “are maybe diminishing, but simultaneously, we’re seeing the normal relationship between traffic volumes and traffic safety kind of reestablish itself.”
Some of the grim 2021 data from LAPD
- DUI crashes are up 20 percent
- Severe DUI crashes involving serious injuries are up 73 percent
- Fatal DUI crashes are up 9 percent
- Severe hit-and-run crashes (involving serious injuries) increased 20 percent
- Pedestrian accidents involving serious injuries are up 45 percent
LAPD data also shows that vehicle crashes in which a bicyclist is seriously injured are up 34 percent when compared to last year’s totals. Crashes in which a bicyclist is killed increased 40 percent.
It’s important to remember that those who are injured in crashes caused by another driver’s negligence have the right to pursue compensation for all damages.