By Cindy Cummings
After car accidents drastically fell by 50% across California thanks to shelter-in-place orders, road crashes in LA County are now back up to their usual rates. An increase in speeding on quieter-than-usual roads, along with an uptake in people walking and cycling, are contributing to higher accident rates. A total of 21 people have lost their lives in car accidents in LA so far in May from road accidents.
Car accidents in LA
California has the highest rates of fatal road accidents in the US. In LA in 2019, there were 54,000 road crashes and 236 traffic deaths, per data from the Los Angeles Police Department. In fact, the last five years have seen a 32% increase in fatal crashes in the area. The shelter-in-place order initially improved these rates; beforehand, a fatal traffic accident occurred roughly once every 36 hours. After March 19, this decreased to one every 2.5 days, explains Cmdr. Marc Reina.
Increasing road safety
As LA County begins the process of reopening, drivers need to “get used to the fact that there are other people in the streets,” advises Deputy Chief Blake Chow. Every driver “has control of a 5,000-pound missile,” and needs to be on the lookout for pedestrians, cyclists, and people with strollers and carts. In an effort to curb road accidents, most traffic lights in LA are on nighttime settings — this prevents drivers from reaching consecutive green lights at intersections. Additionally, pedestrian push buttons are deactivated at crosswalks to force more drivers to stop due to longer light cycles.
Handling a car accident
Although it’s important to stay safe on the road, accidents can happen through no fault of your own. Remaining calm and taking control of the situation will give you the best possible outcome. First, contact the police who’ll create an official report detailing the accident — this can be used in court if necessary. It’s also important to consult a personal injury attorney for legal representation. A reputable and experienced car accident lawyer can help you win financial compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. By handling your claim, an attorney also helps minimize stress and encourages a faster recovery.
Road safety is continually being improved in the Antelope Valley and wider LA area. Just last year, scrambled crosswalks and pedestrian signals were positioned on particularly dangerous streets and intersections. State officials are currently further looking at ways to improve road safety and reduce car accidents as the state reopens.