Streams

Bay Area Drivers Face Few Consequences in Pedestrian Deaths

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 05:20 PM

KALW

Most drivers who kill pedestrians in the Bay Area are never charged -- even when they are found to be at fault, according to analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting. And the drivers who are charged face light punishments at best.

Over the last five years, 434 pedestrians have been killed by cars in the five major Bay Area counties. 238 drivers were found to be at fault in the accidents. But the majority of those drivers never faced any charges. And for those charged and convicted, punishments were usually light. Over half never had their licenses revoked, even for a day, which is standard in DUI cases.

Possible causes for this low rate of charging and conviction include early legal efforts by the automobile industry to pass jaywalking laws and reduce punishments in the 1930s, and the fact that unlike autos or even bicyclists, pedestrians don’t have a strong lobbying group.

But perhaps the biggest obstacle preventing a punishment in a pedestrian death is the jury. The Bay Area district attorneys interviewed for the Bay Citizen article said that often, they won’t press charges because they know a jury would never convict. San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told The Bay Citizen that jurors picture themselves as the drivers. “They’re all thinking, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ ”

To read more on the analysis of the consequences for pedestrian deaths in the Bay Area, go to the The Bay Citizen.

Tags:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [1]

TOM from Brooklyn

I must get the Norton book. Somehow the auto industry got 'jaywalking' penalized and penalties on drivers minimized, and the death rate on the the road went down dramatically. What was their sin, or did they see something differently, more correctly?

May. 24 2013 01:00 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored