In past years, the NHTSA has released annually an overview of motor vehicle crashes for the prior calendar year which includes both injury and fatality data. However, the NHTSA recently released its overview of 2016 fatality data without including the 2016 non-fatal injury data. I contacted the NHTSA to find out whether the 2016 non-fatal injury data is currently available and if not when it will become available. The response from NHTSA was as follows:
In a nut shell, there is no 2016 injury data at this time. NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) redesigned the nationally representative sample of police-reported traffic crashes, which estimates the number of police-reported injury and property–damage-only crashes in the United States. The new system, called the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS), replaced the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) in 2016. However, the 2016 estimates are not currently available. NHTSA is currently processing the file to ensure the data is accurate and complete and is finalizing the new weighting and calibration procedures to produce national estimates. Once completed, NHTSA will release the data and publish the estimated number of police-reported injury and property-damage-only crashes that occurred during 2016.
The NHTSA recently released its 2016 fatal motor vehicle crash data. Noteworthy among the data are the following:
Nationally, there were 37,461 fatalities during 2016, a 5.6 increase from 2015. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 492, a 9.0% increase from 2015 and the highest number since 1990. The fatality rate per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased by 2.6% from 1.15 in 2015 to 1.18 in 2016. Fatalities in distraction related crashes were 9.2% of total fatalities in 2016. Approximately 28% of all fatalities were in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes (29% in California). There were 11.5 times as many un-helmeted motorcyclist fatalities in States without universal helmet laws (1,923 un-helmeted fatalities) as in States with universal helmet laws (166 un-helmeted fatalities).
Our office mourns the death of Konstaninos “Gus” Vardakastanis, the owner of a number of San Francisco markets, who was killed this morning by a speeding hit-and-run driver as he walked across Jerrold Ave near the SF Produce Market. As one of his numerous admiring customers, I knew Gus as extremely hard working, family-loving, and forever wanting to please his customers in any way he could. Our family and entire neighborhood are saddened. He will be missed very much.
Pedestrians and Bicyclists Injured in Hit And Run – Insurance Coverage And Reporting Requirements
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has produced an updated map showing the streets in the City where the most high-injury traffic incidents have occurred, based on data from San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco Police Department.
On 9/16/16, on northbound Highway 101 in Palo Alto, California, a heavy metal projectile approximately the size of a tennis ball smashed through the window of a minivan, killing the driver, the beloved 82-year-old Louis Schaefer, a Bay Area retired engineer. Ironically, the at-fault party appears to be CALTRANS, the very entity responsible for keeping our highways free of dirt and debris. It is reported that the projectile appears to be a cap to the tank of a CALTRANS water truck that detached while the truck was traveling on southbound Highway 101.
Surviving family members in fatal accident cases caused by governmental entities such as CALTRANS are entitled to bring claims for wrongful death. While a two-year statute of limitations is applicable to accident claims against private parties, there is a governmental claims process applicable to CALTRANS that must be complied with pursuant to California State law which dictates that a governmental claim be brought within 6 months of the accident.
As reported by several news agencies, Aniket Gadre, a young boy, was tragically killed while walking with his mother in the parking lot of San Jose’s Westfield Oakridge Shopping Center during the evening of June 30, 2016. According to witnesses, a Mercedes automobile traveling at low speed, apparently looking for a parking spot, fatally struck Aniket. As a Bay Area pedestrian accident lawyer who has handled many such cases, distracted driving is a huge factor in many fatal and severe injury incidents. While we frequently see drivers take their eyes off the path in which their vehicle is traveling, it is negligent to do so. This comes at the same time that the NHTSA has released its crash data showing a dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities, as I reported in my earlier blog post.
The NHTSA has released their preliminary analysis of 2015 crash data. Traffic deaths nationally increased 7.7% over 2014, 6% in California, with 9 out of 10 geographic regions reporting increases. Bicycling deaths nationally increased a startling 13%, while pedestrian deaths increased an equally troubling 10%. The data is still being analyzed but the NHTSA reports that human factors such as distracted driving and young drivers to be primary factors. This of course comes as no surprise to San Francisco Bay Area drivers who constantly witness distracted driving activity on our roads due to drivers’ use of smartphones. Congressional action and local strict enforcement are clearly needed.
In my humble opinion, we have a duty as citizens to report unsafe drivers in order to prevent traffic accidents. If one knows of an incompetent or chronically impaired driver, there is action that can be taken to report that person and thereby hopefully eventually remove that person from the road, either temporarily or permanently, in order to prevent fatalities and injuries. If we are out driving and observe someone exhibiting unsafe driving behavior, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) wants us to report it while it is happening by calling 911. There is also a procedure for reporting such drivers to the DMV. The DMV has a Form (DS 699) Request For Driver Reexamination, which can be found online, by which ordinary citizens can report to the DMV unsafe drivers known to them. I recently used this form to report an extremely elderly man who I observed for several minutes exhibiting incompetent driving behavior on Highway 101. While I should have notified the CHP immediately, I later used the DS 699 to report the driver using the car plate number and vehicle and driver description.
As reported by local news media, a Toyota Corolla driven on the wrong side of Highway 1 near Paloma Ave in Pacifica collided head-on with a Nissan Altima driven by an Uber driver at approximately 2:30 a.m. on 12/25/15. The collision caused the untimely and tragic death of Jason Gilbride, age 25, of Pacifica, who was the Uber passenger, as well as the driver of the Corolla. The Uber driver is reportedly severely injured and hospitalized at San Francisco General Hospital.
As I have described in a previous blog entry, Uber provides its passengers with $1 Million of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in addition to the mandated $1 Million of liability insurance. Thus, regardless of how fault for this accident is attributed, there are substantial insurance proceeds available to compensate the Uber-related victims of this horrific accident and their families, albeit never enough to truly compensate them for their devastating loss.
Tragically, on 9/21/15, a 39-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a chain-reaction accident on Highway 680 in San Ramon which reportedly began with a Honda rear-ending a big rig, spinning out and becoming disabled before colliding with the motorcyclist who was soon thereafter run over by a second big rig. As SF Bay Area motorcycle accident attorneys, we have handled strikingly similar accident cases on behalf of the families of the deceased motorcyclists. These cases typically involve complex issues of accident reconstruction and human factors analysis, insurance issues, and legal issues of comparative fault. We have overcome much finger-pointing, adverse police reports, and denials of fault by insurance companies, in obtaining for the families the justice and compensation they deserved.