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Car Accidents and Pedestrians

“For pedestrians, roads are becoming deadlier than ever,” says Peter C. Baker, in his article “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in the Guardian Weekly magazine.

Over the past ten years there has been a 41% increase in the number of American pedestrians who were killed on US roads in 2018 compared with 2018.  Most traffic and safety experts are not sure of what is causing pedestrian deaths to increase.  Each time a pedestrian is hit by a car, we look to multiple causes.  Was there a “distracted” driver.  “Distracted” has recently come to mean distraction by cell-phone use.  However, “driver distraction” can consist of a multitude of ways in which a driver diverts his or her attention from the road and fails to see the pedestrian, such as listening to music, listening, (or watching!) a DVD movie playing in the car, conversation, scenery outside the car, and on and on.  Other factors include driving recklessly, driving intoxicated, the condition and design of the road, the quality of the markings of a pedestrian crossing zone, local lighting, among other things.

Why does the United States have more pedestrian fatalities than any other wealthy country.  One of the most alarming parts of Baker’s article is this:  “When two Boeing 737’s went down, killing 346 people, it triggered multiple governmental investigations.  Crash reconstruction and analysis experts showed up.  Corporate spokespeople apologized, began handing out checks to victim’s families and sworn to do better.  But cars kill a 737’s worth of American pedestrians every couple of weeks.”

Pedestrian accidents will continue to happen and continue to increase because Americans are driving more than ever.  Where high-volume and high-speed roads exist where people live, work and shop, pedestrian accidents are going to occur.  Speed limits have increased over the past 20 years.  All evidence points to the fact that even small increases in the speed limit, (and in fast drivers who ignore the posted speed limit), “dramatically increases the likelihood of killing pedestrians.”

In Malone, NY we have a Main Street that consists of four lanes in the central downtown area.  The speed limit of 30 MPH is rarely observed.  The four-lane set up is even more dangerous because the YMCA is located on Main Street and kids with their parents must cross four lanes, plus a turning lane, to get from one side of Main Street to get to the YMCA.  The New York State Dept. of Transportation has placed an ineffective and dangerous lighted sign over the highway that the pedestrian must engage to light up.   But the real problem is that the Department of Transportation has planned the Main Street traffic design on the presumption that the uninterrupted flow of traffic is some public right.  So, in their planning, the Department of Transportation and other officials involved in road design have either ignored pedestrian usage of the road and have, in effect, factored pedestrians as nuisances.

In Potsdam, New York, Market Street from downtown out toward out toward May Road presents the same hazards for pedestrians.  Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh, New York is also a pedestrian unfriendly roadway.  In Canton, Route 11 going right through downtown is a pedestrian danger area, as well.  In Saranac Lake,New York where River Street passes by Lake Flower, pedestrians must navigate two lanes of traffic and a turning lane to get to the other side.  In Massena, Route 37 is a very difficult roadway to cross for a pedestrian.

In the end, the reality of pedestrians using the highway is not being taken seriously enough.  Individuals driving cars are sometimes making bad choices in using the roads.  They drive too fast.  They hit pedestrians.

This isn’t just about the usage of cell phones.  This is about speed and the realization by drivers that there are people who walk and people who cross the highway.

If you have been hit by a car we can help. We can meet you wherever you are.  Though we have our offices in Malone, New York and Potsdam, we can come to meet you wherever you are in Northern New York.

 

Joe Nichols

Poissant, Nichols, Grue, Vanier and Babbie, PC

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