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L.A. Is The Second Deadliest City in the U.S. for Pedestrians

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Pedestrians wait to cross the street in downtown Los Angeles (Photo by Andy Kennelly via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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L.A. is the most dangerous place for pedestrians, second only the NYC, according to federal data.

The stats come from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and pertain to the year 2012, in which 99 pedestrians in L.A. were killed by vehicles. New York had a total of 127 pedestrian-vehicle fatalities. These numbers only account for people on foot, not cyclists.

To put things in perspective, there were 33,561 total traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2012, and of those, 4,743 were pedestrian fatalities - around 14 percent. That's an average of one pedestrian killed every two hours in the U.S.

State-wise, California accounted for 612 pedestrian deaths out of 2,857 total traffic fatalities, followed by Texas (478/3,398) and Florida (476/2,424), though the highest fatality rate per 100,000 people goes to Delaware, at 2.94.

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In L.A. alone, 2012 saw 242 persons killed in traffic incidents, with 99 of them being pedestrians - a surprising 41 percent of fatalities. This put the fatality rate of pedestrians per 100,000 people at 2.57. By comparison, New York had 268 total fatalities, with 127 of them being pedestrians - 47 percent. However, their pedestrian fatality rate is only 1.52, as New York's population is much higher (8,336,697 to L.A.'s 3,857,799 at the time of the study).

Below L.A. is Chicago at 47 pedestrian deaths, Houston at 46 and Philadelphia at 31.

The study advises both drivers and pedestrians to, well, use common sense. Drivers, look out for pedestrians at all times, not just at crosswalks, and drive slowly through neighborhoods and school zones. Never try to pass a stopped car in a crosswalk and stop far enough away from crosswalks that other motorists can see pedestrians.

Pedestrians are urged to make eye contact with drivers as they approach, use crosswalks and wear bright clothing at night. And while drinking and driving is obviously illegal, pedestrians are urged to drink with caution as well, as 36 percent of pedestrians killed had a BAC of .08 percent or higher.

Pedestrians in L.A. also have a financial incentive to cross in a designated area.

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As of December 2013, just stepping off the curb and into the street while the hand is flashing and the clock is counting down can net you a ticket up to $250, with enforcement heaviest downtown in the Historic Core and Financial District.

LAPD's Traffic Division's reasoning for the crackdown was that pedestrians were causing too many accidents by impeding traffic. However, despite the 31,326 citations handed out in the Central Bureau in 2013, there were still 129 vehicle-pedestrians incidents downtown, four of them fatal.

In January 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 184, increasing the statute of limitations on hit-and-run accidents from three years to six. Nearly one fifth of pedestrians killed in 2012 were the victims of hit-and-run accidents.