Personal injury attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, examines rise of pedestrian accidents in California.

Pedestrian Accidents are On the Rise in California: Part 2

In Part 2 of our series on the surge in pedestrian accident fatalities in California and throughout the nation, we will take a look at some of the most common causes of pedestrian crashes and why these accidents are increasing at such an alarming rate.

Here are seven of the most common reasons that pedestrian accidents occur:


Exceeding the speed limit is the number one contributing factor to all types of traffic-related accidents. A motorist who speeds is more likely to be involved in a crash than one who is driving at or below the speed limit, and speeding also vastly increases the chances of severe and catastrophic injuries. This is especially true when it comes to pedestrians who are defenseless when a vehicle collides with them.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

Whether you’re in Rancho Cucamonga, LA, or Northern California, people are in more of a hurry these days than ever before. This has prompted a growing number of motorists to drive aggressively or even recklessly. Examples of these types of driving behaviors include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Weaving back and forth between lanes
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way

To a pedestrian, an aggressive or reckless driver is a lethal weapon. When a motorist is clearly not following traffic laws, it makes it difficult for a pedestrian to predict what they are going to do. 

For example, how can you expect to safely cross the road if you do not know whether or not the driver is going to yield the right-of-way? Failure to yield accounts for roughly 20% of all traffic-related crashes in California, and this is a very big problem when it comes to motorists and pedestrians. 


Both motorists and pedestrians alike have an endless number of distractions to deal with. Whether it’s food, drink, putting on makeup, radios, other traffic, dealing with passengers, road signs, GPS, eye-catching billboards, and now our smartphones, distractions are all around us. 

A significant percentage of pedestrian accidents are caused by drivers who are not paying close enough attention to the road. Pedestrians are not always blameless in this regard either. For example, someone who is walking and looking down at their phone while crossing illegally will clearly share a portion of the blame if these actions result in a crash.


On November 28, 2020, a pedestrian was injured, and his two dogs were killed after being struck by a drunk driver at a marked crosswalk in Rancho Cucamonga. The collision occurred at the 7100 block of Archibald Avenue near the P.E. Trail.

Stories like these are repeated far too often. And they always begin with a fateful decision made by a driver to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. 

California and other states have spent untold amounts of money on high-profile public awareness campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving. Still, incidents like these are occurring at roughly the same rate they were a few decades ago.

Failure to Signal While Turning

This is a simple mistake that gets made by drivers all the time. Whether it is because they are in a rush or they just forget, the result is the same. Failing to signal while turning might not seem like a big deal, but it could have life-altering implications for a pedestrian who is trying to cross the road but is not aware that you are turning.

Unmarked Crosswalks 

California has more than its share of road design problems. While most intersections have designated crosswalks, some do not. The absence of a lined and clearly marked crosswalk can confuse motorists into not realizing that they are driving through a pedestrian crossing area.

Defective Traffic Lights

Related to the previous point, there are some intersections that contain defective traffic lights. And since both motorists and pedestrians depend on functional traffic lights to know when it is their turn to go through the intersection, a malfunctioning light can cause disastrous consequences.

What is Causing the Spike in Pedestrian Crashes?

Experts have been trying to figure out why pedestrian accidents have been increasing recently. The previously mentioned factors have been fairly constant for a long time, so why are we seeing such a significant rise in pedestrian crashes and especially in fatalities?

Dr. Marc Green, Ph.D. believes he has some answers. He lists several possible reasons on his website, among them including:


One factor that is often overlooked when explaining the rise in pedestrian crashes is the simple fact that the population has increased. For example, Rancho Cucamonga had an estimated population of 175,142 as of 2021, according to the U.S. Census. This is a sharp increase from a couple of decades ago in 2000 when the population was approximately 128,000. All other factors being equal, an increase in the population would at least partially explain the spike in pedestrian accidents.

Traffic Density

A larger population means more motorists and more pedestrians using the same transportation infrastructure. Without significant investments to improve the roadways and walkways, heavier traffic density is a near certainty. Heavy traffic means a much smaller margin for error for both motorists and pedestrians who are trying to stay safe. 


The demographic trends also play a role in the number of pedestrian accidents that occur. According to Dr. Green, there are more young and inexperienced drivers on the roads these days. Families with more disposable income over the past decade have been able to provide vehicles for their teens to drive, which seems to be the main factor that is driving this trend.

At the same time, the country as a whole has an aging population. This means that there are a lot more older pedestrians out walking. In general, seniors are frailer than younger people, and when they are struck by a vehicle, there is a lot greater likelihood that they will suffer a serious or fatal injury.


Clearly, smartphones are one of the biggest contributors to the increase in pedestrian crashes (and vehicle accidents in general). These devices are far more dangerous than their predecessors because they can distract motorists and pedestrians in three different ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. 

This can result in drivers taking their complete focus off of the roads while they are reading or sending a text, for example. It only takes a few seconds with your eyes and mind away from the road to miss something important, such as a pedestrian crossing in front of you. 


Rancho Cucamonga is full of SUVs, and we are not alone. In 2014, sales of SUVs surpassed those of sedans. Today, SUVs and pickup trucks account for approximately 60% of all new vehicle sales. Not coincidentally, the number of SUVs involved in fatal pedestrian crashes increased by 82% from 2009 to 2016.

Larger, heavier vehicles pose greater inherent risks for pedestrians. They have high bumpers and flat fronts, meaning that their point of contact is higher up when they collide with a pedestrian (e.g., the hip or chest rather than just the legs). Getting struck by a vehicle like this is likely to result in more severe injuries.

LED and HID Headlamps

Have you noticed how it is increasingly difficult to tell sometimes when another car has its brights on? This is because of new headlamp technology that comes in many vehicles today. LED and HID headlamps can be blinding for both pedestrians and other drivers, and this might be one of the causes of the increase in pedestrian crashes after dark.


California and several other states have now legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. But as is the case with alcohol, drugs and driving are never a good mix. From 2016 to 2017, states that legalized marijuana reported an increase in pedestrian fatalities that was more than 10% higher than states that still prohibit its use.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Rancho Cucamonga? Contact Muhareb Law Group for Assistance 

We are all pedestrians at some point. And if you walk frequently to get to work, school, or for leisure, always be on the lookout for hazardous situations so you can get where you are going safely. 

Even when we do the best we can, however, we cannot control the actions of others. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a pedestrian crash in Rancho Cucamonga or anywhere in San Bernardino County, get immediate medical care, then contact our office for experienced legal representation.

Call us today at (909) 519-5832 or send us an online message to set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We are ready to go to work for you!