San Francisco's streets were slightly more dangerous last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) says. The city saw 3,111 nonfatal injury traffic accidents in 2011, 30 more than the prior year. The number of fatal traffic collisions also increased from 23 in 2010 to 28 in 2011.
A variety of factors can contribute to a traffic accident and the majority of crashes arise out of poor driving behavior. Examples include texting while driving, speeding, drunk driving and turn signal neglect. Speeding was the most common cause of nonfatal car accidents, followed by vehicle right-of-way violations and ignoring traffic signs.
Traffic accidents caused by drivers who ran red lights also increased last year, but were still near 2010's historic low. Such crashes were down from almost 700 in 1999 to 315 in 2011.
"Traffic signal hardware and timing improvements appear to have helped reduce these types of collisions at certain intersections," the SFMTA said. "This decrease also coincides with the city's deployment of red light photo enforcement starting in 1997 and other efforts aimed at reducing the incidences of red light running."
The SFMTA statistics also demonstrate that technology cannot stop all red light running crashes. Red light cameras reduce many crashes attributable to common speeders, but intoxicated drivers and reckless drivers continue to be a problem.
Recent high-profile San Francisco red light accidents:
- A 65-year-old motorcyclist was killed when a car ran the light at Van Ness Avenue and Post Street in late August.
- In early August, a pedestrian died in the Tenderloin district after being hit by a cab that ran a light at Eddy and Larkin Street.
- A 71-year-old Castro district pedestrian was killed in April when a cyclist ran a red light at Market and Castro streets.