Medical Data Can Make San Francisco Streets Safer
Research shows that cars hit two to three people every day on San Francisco’s streets –that’s more than 800 pedestrian crashes a year.
According to San Francisco General Hospital trauma surgeon Dr. Rochelle Dicker (as first reported by SF.Streetsblog) an incredible 22 percent of all trauma cases in San Francisco are pedestrians who were hit by cars. Mindful of this statistic, Dr. Dicker and her team examined the cases of 3,619 pedestrians who were injured by drivers in the last five years in order to better inform public safety measures to prevent pedestrian injuries.
Who Pays for Pedestrian Injuries?
Dr. Dicker’s research shows that of the 3,619 pedestrians hit by cars during that period, 26 percent were admitted to the hospital, resulting in medical bills totaling $74 million. Public funding through Medicare or MediCal paid $56 million of those bills. And 9% of those pedestrians admitted to the hospital died.
Mapping Accidents for Cost Effective Pedestrian Safety Measures
Dr. Dicker and her team mapped pedestrian injuries according to the Supervisorial District in which the accident occurred. By mapping the total cost for admitted patients by accident locations, Dr. Dicker was able to highlight accident hotspots, and subsequently form an economic case for implementing and evaluating pedestrian safety measures in those high risk areas.
Dr. Dicker’s map shows that pedestrian crashes are reported most often in District 6, including the SOMA and Tenderloin neighborhoods, where around 240 people were hit last year, including four who were killed.
Pedestrian injuries carry with them both the intangible cost of human life as well as the actual cost of health care bills. By examining where accidents occur as well as the resulting cost of the pedestrians’ injuries, we have credible data to support implementing better pedestrian safety measures at targeted specific locations, and specific examples of road and traffic issues that need to be modified. The 25-member Pedestrian Safety Task Force has been charged with developing a Pedestrian Action Plan that will reduce serious and fatal pedestrian injuries by 25 percent by 2016, and 50 percent by 2021. This new research should be a key part of pedestrian safety plans.
Gov 2.0 Responds to Data
SFMTA estimates that one signaled intersection could cost $350,000. However, the SFMTA has less than $1 million in available revenue each year for pedestrian improvement projects, and SFMTA claims funding is the biggest obstacle to implementing change.
Armed with Dr. Dicker’s research, SFMTA can strategically execute changes in the areas most likely to have pedestrian collisions. And the data collected by Dr. Dicker makes a compelling case – it is less expensive to spend now to protect pedestrians in than it is to treat the injuries caused by our dangerous roadways.