The Center for Investigative Reporting poured over pedestrian records collected by the state and found that 30 percent of people killed by drivers, were hit while walking in a legal crosswalk. That’s three times the national average.
Since the 1930s prosecutors have had difficulty convincing juries to convict drivers for killing pedestrians. In response, California lawmakers in 1945 created a vehicular manslaughter statute, with lighter sentences and the option of charging the crime as a misdemeanor, not a felony.
A review of five years of pedestrian deaths by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that prosecution rates are still low. Sixty percent of drivers who were found to be at fault for killing pedestrians or suspected of a crime like hit and run did not face criminal charges. When prosecutors did file, the punishments were often light. In fact, more than 40 percent of drivers charged with killing a pedestrian did not even have their licenses revoked. Four of ten drivers who were convicted, were sentenced to just one day or got no jail time at all.
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