Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Slam into a pedestrian in the middle of a crosswalk and what happens, exactly?

"Drop a flower pot off a high-up windowsill and kill someone, you might face criminal charges. Slam into a pedestrian in the middle of a crosswalk and what happens, exactly?"

In most cases, nothing. This is shocking to anyone from Northern Europe, but accepted as a basic fact of life in the United States. A nice short piece about this from the Pedestrianist here:

The article also references an op-ed by Walk Bike CT, which argues the point in more detail, citing a few studies that are just as relevant in Connecticut as they are elsewhere.

"In most of northern Europe there is some version of a "vulnerable roadway users" law. In other words, those driver larger, heavier, vehicles have a greater degree of responsibility than those walking or biking. The understanding is that each roadway user is responsible for the safety of roadway users more vulnerable than him/herself. By contrast, under our current system, drivers seem to have an implicit carte blanche to do as they please, and unless they're drunk, they are often given no more than a slap on the wrist when they kill or injure a cyclist or pedestrian."

Streetsblog provides great ongoing coverage of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, including this one about six-year-old Clarente Turner's death last year. Readers often point out that "jumping a subway turnstile gets you in more trouble in this city than killing a person with your car."

Unfortunately, until laws change and traffic safety becomes a top priority across all levels of government, these types of preventable injuries and deaths will continue to be an very common everyday occurrence on our streets.

No comments: