San Jose sets grim record with 30 pedestrian traffic fatalities so far this year

San Jose sets grim record with 30 pedestrian traffic fatalities so far this year
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By Wesley Severson - Published on November 03, 2022.

The city of San Jose has broken a record that no city would ever want to break. So far this year, 30 pedestrians have been hit and killed by cars. The previous record of 28 pedestrian deaths was set more than 25 years ago. The latest casualty happened on November 2nd around 4:30 in the morning at Almaden Expressway and Cherry Avenue. The unidentified victim was a homeless man who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk. According to the Mercury News, “the driver remained on the scene and cooperated with police and is not suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” 

"So, we did reach a grim milestone early this morning with our 30th pedestrian fatality due to a traffic crash in San Jose," said San Jose Department of Transportation spokesperson Colin Heyne, speaking to KTVU on Tuesday. "That’s an all-time high as far as our current records go. It brought us to a total of 58 fatalities from 56 crashes this year. As we have grown as a city, we’re trying to make things denser and make it a more welcoming environment for walking and bicycling."

The 29th pedestrian death happened on August 24th, but it wasn’t originally labeled as such until late last month after a more thorough investigation. The victim in that case was riding a motorized mobility scooter when he was hit at Lundy Avenue and Sierra Road. When the 28th pedestrian fatality was reported in mid-October, police predicted that San Jose would set a new disturbing new record by a pretty wide margin. This year’s numbers blew past last year’s numbers very quickly. There were 19 pedestrian deaths logged in mid-October of 2021, compared to 28 this year. "It is shocking, to say the least. The police department’s notifications to drivers, to schools, seem to fall on deaf ears sometimes. If folks follow the rules of the road, use common sense, and are paying attention, we can prevent every single fatality in the City of San Jose," SJPD spokesperson Steven Aponte told KTVU.

Part of the reason for this year’s surge could be fewer traffic cops out on the streets. When the number of pedestrian deaths reached 20 in March, the Mercury News reported that the city had only filled 18 of 30 budgeted traffic enforcement officer positions, which frustrated some city officials.

“I can not tell you how angry I am that we are not taking traffic enforcement as seriously as we need to,” Councilmember Dev Davis told the Mercury News at the time. Mayor Sam Liccardo also told the city manager to start working on a permanent plan to increase the number of traffic cops in the city. “The first priority is getting to fill vacancies because vacant positions don’t enforce the law,” Liccardo said. So far, there’s been no public updates on the traffic enforcement vacancies.