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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Drunk Walking: A San Francisco Treat?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

One upside to being stumbling drunk is that it's quite a workout. The inability to walk in a straight line leads to lengthier trips -- as does taking a suboptimal route selected by an impaired walker. Perhaps this was the concept behind Prancercise.

One downside to being stumbling drunk, however, is that it's more dangerous than Prancercise. Statistics released yesterday by the Department of Transportation indicate that 35 percent of all pedestrians killed in 2011 were legally drunk. That's the same percentage revealed by 2009 data -- and, in fact, the United States lags in the department of drunken pedestrian fatalities.

Recent studies claim the ratio of drunks among dead pedestrians at 38 percent in Canada and 45 percent in Australia. Two-thirds of young Brits or Swedes killed while walking are drunk. And being drunk greatly increases not only your chances of getting into an accident, but dying in one.

But it's great exercise.

San Francisco is a town where it's easy to walk and easy to drink. Is it a haven for drunken walking -- and the resultant fatalities? Based on the data the city collects, it's hard to say.

Every year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency releases a "Collision Report;" the most recent was published a year ago and crunched data from 2011.  

You can learn a lot from this document -- but the words "alcohol" or "impaired" don't come up once.

click to enlarge Now you know - SFMTA
  • Now you know

In general, fatal and non-fatal accidents of all sorts occur less frequently than yesteryear (though, in the very near-term, things are not on a downswing). In 2000, 32 pedestrians were killed in San Francisco. The grim total has see-sawed since then, but hasn't come close. In 2011, 17 were killed.

Of the 844 recorded vehicle-pedestrian collisions that year, 271 were deemed likely the fault of the pedestrian (32 percent). Here's the sort of things these folks were doing out there:

click to enlarge Inadvisable behavior - SFMTA
  • Inadvisable behavior

And yet, it is not immediately clear how many of these pedestrians -- living or dead -- were drunk at the time of their accidents. MTA spokesman Paul Rose confirmed that this statistic is not collected. The data emanates from the San Francisco Police Department, and Rose said he'd inquire further regarding the blood-alcohol level of pedestrians killed on the city's streets.

We eagerly await that information. It would be interesting to learn how many of the folks who felt "walking on the roadway" was a good idea had some manner of chemical encouragement to do so.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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