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Should drivers who hit pedestrians face tougher penalties?

A new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that most drivers responsible for striking and killing pedestrians are not jailed – or even ticketed.

The San Francisco Bay Area, pedestrians comprise 25% of the traffic-related deaths – much higher than the national average. A third of them were hit while crossing the street in a crosswalk.

California’s vehicular manslaughter law has a misdemeanor option, but most drivers did not face charges. Most kept their driver’s license.

When they were charged with a crime, punishments were usually light, and included no jail time.

“ Walkers are perhaps the most unprotected users of the transportation system. The human body is no match for 3,000 pounds of speeding steel. Autopsy reports routinely describe blood-soaked clothing, fractured skulls, cracked ribs and broken limbs.” – Center for Investigative Reporting

When the main cause of a pedestrian-car collision is a violation like speeding, not stopping at a signal, or not yielding to the pedestrian, why are prosecutors unwilling to bring even misdemeanor charges against negligent motorists who injure and kill people?

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