Advocates in San Jose provide flashing headbands to homeless to lower traffic-related deaths

Four people have been killed in traffic-related accidents so far this year in San Jose. On Monday two of those people were walking in different locations when hit, one of them said to be homeless.   

Traffic-related deaths have hit record numbers over the last few years in San Jose. The city and homeless advocates say they're doing all they can turn this devastating trend around. 

Two people lost their lives Monday, as they were trying to cross the street. San Jose Police posted this tweet after an unidentified man believed to be homeless was hit and killed Monday night near Monterey Hwy and Blossom Hill. 

"Seventy percent of all auto vehicle ped. fatalities were unhoused people in 2021," said Shaunn Cartwright, founder of Unhoused Response Group.   

Last year, there were 65 traffic-related fatalities in San Jose, including 33 pedestrians. The City of San Jose released this statement Tuesday, saying in part: 

"The Department of Transportation takes these tragedies very seriously – our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims. While we continue implementing safety projects, with over 200 scheduled for 2023, we plead with the public to slow down, put away distractions like cell phones, and look out for one another on the road," City of San Jose said in a statement.

Cartwright says because many of the pedestrian fatalities involve unhoused people, advocates have stepped in to provide people with a flashing headband to help them stay visible. 

"So, it has this one. It has a less bright setting; it has the strobe setting. Then it has on the back it also has the settings." 

Cartwright says often times unhoused people are up at night to keep themselves safe and warm. She says people living in East and Central San Jose, including those living on the streets, have been impacted the most. 

"We focused first on passing them out in the areas where people are hit the most. People are thrilled to get these. They are so excited, and we give them extra batteries," Cartwright said.  

SEE ALSO: 2 pedestrians killed in separate San Jose crashes, police say

The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office identified another man, 78-year-old San Jose resident Weishan Xu, who was also struck and killed Monday morning. Police say he was hit as the driver of a Toyota sedan turned on Interstate 680's southbound on-ramp at Jackson Avenue. Cartwright says speeding drivers and the housing crises are both playing a role in San Jose’s traffic deaths. 

"The more that people are being pushed towards freeway off ramps and large streets, people go faster in those areas. So, it’s much easier for people to get hit," Cartwright said.  

No one has been arrested or charged yet in either of Monday’s pedestrian deaths. City officials also say they’re shortening the time it takes to put in safety projects by using quick-build materials and redefining space for people walking and biking.