San Francisco traffic deaths carry high cost

Every year, more than a dozen people die on city streets in traffic-related collisions. The most recent happened Wednesday afternoon when a woman was killed crossing Geary Boulevard.

Beyond the emotional devastation these deaths carry for those involved, they inflict huge costs onto The City — an average of $3.5 million for every fatality.

Property damage, loss of income, emergency response and medical bills all factor into the cost, according to a new study that paints a comprehensive picture of traffic collisions in San Francisco in recent years.

In 2008, total traffic accidents cost The City $280 million, including $95 million related to fatalities, according to the report compiled last month by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The study examined incident data from 2004 to 2008. December is the most dangerous month for walkers, Friday is the most dangerous day and the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. are the most dangerous time.

The intersections at Howard and Sixth streets and Mission and 16th streets were the most hazardous to pedestrians in 2008, with five collisions reported at each junction that year.

“The SFMTA is actively pursuing smart, cost-effective solutions … to increase The City’s walkability and livability,” said Timothy Papandreou of the SFMTA.

San Francisco’s rate of 4.33 deaths per 100,000 residents is in the middle of the pack when compared to 12 other national cities — below Portland’s safest rate of 3.39 deaths, but well ahead of Atlanta’s most dangerous 10.97 mark.

Through the first week of September, there were 13 traffic fatalities in San Francisco this year. By comparison, there were 156 traffic deaths recorded in The City in 1945, according to the study.

The SFMTA, which manages traffic operations in The City, has touted a number of recent programs aimed at improving safety conditions, including the increase in countdown signals at crosswalks, traffic-calming measures on busy streets, educational and outreach efforts, and greater data collection.

However, The City still has a lot of room for improvement, said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of pedestrian advocacy group Walk SF. She cited the 799 pedestrian injuries in 2008 — steady since 2003 — as proof that increased safety measures are needed.

“In San Francisco, we should be able to walk easily and safely, but right now, two people a day are getting hit by cars,” Stampe said. She said the SFMTA should increase safety measures for walkers, starting with a central focus on reducing speed limits on city streets.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Woman killed by UCSF shuttle bus

A 65-year-old woman was killed after being struck by a UC San Francisco shuttle bus Wednesday afternoon.

Around 12:30 p.m., police began receiving 911 emergency response calls about a pedestrian being hit by a shuttle bus, according to San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Michael Andraychak.

The bus was reportedly traveling north on Leavenworth Street and attempting to make a left turn onto Geary Street when it struck the pedestrian in the crosswalk, Andraychak said.

He said alcohol or drugs were likely not a factor in the collision.

Andraychak said the driver is cooperating with police. No other injuries were reported.

“UCSF is deeply saddened by the loss of life and extends condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” a statement released by the school said.

This is the first such incident in the 30-year history of the shuttles run by the university, according to Jon Gledhill, director of UCSF Transportation Services.

The intersection was closed for some three hours.

— Andrea Koskey


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