Articles Tagged with “pedestrian fatalities”

Walking, even in the crosswalk, is becoming more dangerous.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting a 10 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in traffic crashes across the U.S. last year. This marks the largest increase in four decades, since data was first collected.

The official tally shows an estimated 2,368 pedestrians were killed between January and June of 2015. Researchers expect annual figures to reach the 10 percent mark.

pedestrians.JPGPedestrians now have to watch out for more than just traffic in two major cities.

Jaywalking laws have traditionally gone unenforced in many cities, but New York City and Los Angeles are now telling pedestrians to follow the letter of the law or face citation. Pedestrians are surprised, and in some cases, are facing hefty fines for crossing the street before the traffic signal changes. One man in Los Angeles was ticketed $197 as he walked to work.

“I didn’t even know that was against the law,” he told the New York Times. “I was like, “You are the L.A.P.D., and this is what you are doing right now?”

New York City Police are taking the same steps. The city saw 12 pedestrian fatalities in January, prompting new Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths within 10 years. Vision Zero focuses largely on drivers, but at the same time, New York City Police have started enforcing jaywalking laws.

Pedestrians have responded strongly against enforcement, both in Los Angeles and New York City. In Los Angeles, a lawyer who was ticketed as he walked to a local courthouse told the New York Times:

“Honestly, I cussed them out for about five minutes. I told them what a stupid waste of time this was, and wasn’t it great that they had two police officers standing there when there are obviously more important issues out there.”

In New York City, an 84-year-old man, Kang Wong, has filed notice he plans to sue the city and police department for $5 million. He alleges he was pushed against a wall and beaten as he was cited, sustaining head injuries and other trauma.

In New York City, three of the pedestrians were killed in the Upper West Side, near Broadway and 96th Street. They were a 9-year-old boy who was hit by a taxi as he crossed the street with his father, a young doctor struck by an ambulance outside her apartment building and a 73-year-old man hit by a tour bus.

After these deaths, the city installed electronic signs warning pedestrians to use the crosswalks. Police stood by with a bullhorn, citing pedestrians who violated jaywalking laws $40-$100.

Every city has an interest in this conversation, including here in Boston and Massachusetts. Our state sees an average of 86 pedestrian deaths each year, nearly one fifth of all traffic fatalities, according to WalkBoston, a non-profit advocacy organization which represents pedestrians and 75 cities and towns across the state.

But rather than ticket pedestrians, WalkBoston advocates for improving infrastructure and education. For instance, it notes that 90 percent of pedestrians killed are struck by cars traveling 40 mph compared to 5 percent who die by cars traveling at 20 mph. One way to encourage drivers to slow down is to reduce travel lane widths, the organization says.

Perhaps you are wondering what the fine for jaywalking is in Massachusetts. We hope you are sitting down: It is $1.00! But after three offenses, the fine doubles M.G.L. c. 90, § 18A. Municipalities won’t balance their budgets on jaywalking tickets, that’s for certain.

Related:
New York City takes aim at jaywalking, The Boston Globe.
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As 35 million Americans plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, we urge drivers in Massachusetts and throughout New England to think safety.

Travel will be down 100,000 travelers from 2010, which saw a 14 percent increase from the year before, according to the auto club AAA. Approximately 30.9 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more to their Memorial Day destination.

When this many drivers are on the road, it is especially important to watch out for those around you to avoid traffic accidents. That includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists as well as other cars. Here are some things to remember while traveling this holiday weekend:

  • Wear seatbelts and make sure everyone in the car does the same. It is the law in Massachusetts and has proven effective in preventing traffic fatalities. In 2008 alone, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • If you are traveling with children, make sure child passenger seats are in compliance with the law. Passenger seats can save lives in motor vehicle accidents. Click here to learn about Massachusetts’ child passenger seat law.
  • When the roads are congested, watch out for aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving behavior may include someone who is following you too closely, speeding or gesturing at you. Avoid eye contact. Do not gesture back. Make it your goal to move away from the driver and not be involved in an aggressive driving car accident. If you can get the driver’s license plate, report the driver to authorities when it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid driving fatigue. Do not drive if you have had inadequate sleep, worked an excessive number of hours or late at night without proper rest.
  • Give motorcyclists more distance – three or four seconds – when following from behind to prevent a motorcycle accident. The goal is to give the motorcyclist enough time to make decisions and stop quickly if needed.
  • Be aware that a motorcycle’s flashing turn signal can be deceptive. The signal may not be self-canceling and a motorcyclist may forget to turn it off. Wait to see whether the rider actually turns or a motorcycle accident may result.
  • Allow bicyclists 3 feet clearance when passing on the road.
  • Yield to cyclists at intersections and traffic signals before making your own driving decisions.
  • Watch out for pedestrians and runners even in areas you may not expect them. In 2009, pedestrian deaths accounted for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities.
  • Be vigilant about not driving while distracted and not texting while driving. It may be easy to let your guard down when you are relaxing among friends and family. But motor vehicle accidents happen fast and it is best to focus on the road.
  • If you are drinking alcohol, do not drive, bicycle or walk on the road.

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