Booming economy may be to blame for pedestrian deaths in San Jose

In San Jose, two pedestrians are dead in less than seven hours, after separate, unrelated, collisions involving motorists.

Investigators said the first loss of life happened around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. A man was crossing Almaden Expressway at Canoas Garden Avenue and was hit by a woman driving a 2007 Toyota Camry southbound on the expressway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It’s sad that you have people on the roadways not paying attention to traffic points," San Jose Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Enrique Garcia said calling it a dangerous situation.

Roughly six hours later, a second pedestrian was killed in a fatal collision with a motorist. This time, the crash happened just before 1 a.m. Monday, on Quimby Road near South White Road. A man was crossing Quimby outside the crosswalk, when he was hit by a man driving east on White Road.

San Jose police said in both cases, the drivers stayed at the scene and are cooperating with the investigations. The accident marks the 50th fatal collision so far this year, which is one ahead of last year, with five weeks left in the year.

“It’s an absolute travesty that we’ve had two pedestrian deaths in less than 24 hours in our area. It’s not typical,” said Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute Dr. Karen Philbrick.

In analyzing stats provided by police investigators, it says the number of fatal traffic collisions, now at 50, the number of victims annually, between 52 and 60, and the number of vehicles hitting pedestrians in San Jose, in the low 20s, has remained constant despite efforts to reduce such occurrences. Philbrick believes the reason is linked to the continued growth of the area. There are more vehicles on the road, and more people unaware of their surroundings.

“A healthy and growing economy, certainly one that has rebounded from the great recession, is a mixed blessing," she said. "It means there are more people on the road, which means, sometimes, higher accident and injury rates."

Experts said other factors such as time of day and clothing worn by the victims could also play a role. They caution both drivers and pedestrians should always be aware and on-guard, no matter who has the right of way.