San Francisco pedestrian deaths see post-Covid rise


Charles Chu '24

Pedestrian deaths in San Francisco have surged over the course of the pandemic.

Bo Wyatt '24, Staff Reporter

San Francisco, already suffering from severe traffic and many pedestrian fatalities, pre-pandemic, saw a drastic spike with the rise of Covid, and in recent years the city streets have grown increasingly dangerous, according to reports. 

Despite measures taken to help reduce this issue, including an official goal declared by the city in 2014 to eliminate traffic caused fatalities by 2024, there has been little progress, and traffic continues to plague San Francisco; with 18.4 percent more vehicle fatalities in the first half of 2021, relative to 2020.  

In a press release, Mayor London Breed commented on this, stating, “The current pace of traffic safety improvements in San Francisco is unacceptable and I refuse to allow red tape and bureaucracy to stop us from taking immediate, common-sense steps to improve safety while we undergo long-term improvements. Every life lost on our streets is one too many.” 

However this isn’t just a local issue, and surrounding cities suffer similar struggles, with San Jose having recently recorded their worst year of traffic deaths in a quarter century. Furthermore,  according to the National Safety Council there were 42,060 traffic collision deaths in 2020 as compared to 39,107 in 2019; showing a nationwide growth in reckless driving and accidents.  

An alarming aspect of this, is that many accidents take place in a school zone, and the age range with the highest vehicular crashes is 16-19. 

Nathaniel Antenesmo ’24, a student driver, spoke on this issue, stating, “This issue personally impacts all student drivers, for in the city people drive aggressively, slam on their breaks, and the only way to avoid it is to constantly watch the road.” 

Aggression on the road, distractions, speeding, intoxication, and jammed roads, all more common in the city, are the major contributing factors of road accidents, and pedestrian deaths. 

Furthermore, the empty roads that covid caused allowed drivers to begin increasing their speed and have less focus on their surroundings, which hasn’t translated well in the post-pandemic world. 

To help alleviate this issue, local officials hope drivers work to make the roads a safer place through wearing seatbelts, practicing patience, making sure to be attentive and focused, and most importantly never consuming illicit substances before driving.