Friday, January 16, 2015

Elderly Man Killed in Unmarked Crosswalk on Center St: More Death at 30mph

An elderly man walking with a cane was trying to cross Center Street at an unmarked crosswalk early yesterday morning when a man driving a van struck him down and killed him.

18th jogs here at Center Street
There are convenience stores and an AA/Recovery club here
It's also another busy street signed for 30mph
Even in full daylight, this is a tricky crossing,
and without a marked crosswalk, drivers rarely stop.
Hydraulic autoism claims another victim.

You might think this is hyperbole, but the thing is, if we have a system in which drivers are acting lawfully and ostensibly reasonably in accordance with current practices - and they are still killing people, don't we have a system problem?

The position here is, why yes indeed, we have a profound system problem, one that claims the lives of over 30,000 people a year nationwide. These are not random, not vagaries of chance or accidents or "acts of God." These deaths are preventable, and the people are causalities of a system designed for hydraulic auto capacity, not for human capacity. In an urban environment, Twenty is plenty.

Odds of fatality by speed:
20mph - 5%
30mph - 40%
40mph -80%
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
From the police yesterday:
Salem Police are investigating an early morning fatal vehicle/pedestrian crash on Center St NE near 18th St NE.

Salem Police officers were dispatched to the intersection at approximately 5:45 this morning and found that 64-year old Stephen Buchanan of Keizer had been driving eastbound on Center St when he struck 77-year old David McGregor of Salem. Mr McGregor was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Mr McGregor was in an unmarked crosswalk attempting to cross Center St from the south side of the roadway to the north side when he was struck by the 2005 full-sized van that was being operated by Mr. Buchanan. He was wearing dark clothing and was walking very slowly with a cane at the time of the incident. Mr Buchanan stopped immediately and was cooperative with the investigation.

Center St was closed for approximately 3 1/2 hours while the Salem Police Department Traffic Control Unit reconstructed the scene.

No arrests have been made or citations issued at this time as the investigation is continuing.
Was it his fault was walking slowly and needed a cane for assistance? Does this relieve the driver of some responsibility?

The release suggests that the burden for safety falls upon the walking public, and suggests that they be lit up like Christmas trees or that they be walking traffic cones clad in high-viz apparel. Seriously, that people on foot using the roads need to invest in special pedestrian safety equipment, and that if they don't it's their fault they might be hurt or killed. To say "to improve the chances you will be seen by motorists" implies the default condition is that you will not be seen.

If being seen is such a problem - again, this is a sign of a system problem, not an "accident" in a system that operates routinely and safely.

Remember Gil?
These tips are not the sign of a city transportation system that functions for the young and old, from 8 to 80:
The Salem Police Department would like to provide these safety tips for pedestrians:

-Especially in poor weather conditions, it is very important to be visible and vigilant while walking on and around roadways.
-Make sure to cross roadways at intersections and in either marked or unmarked crosswalks.
-Look both ways before crossing any roadway and make eye contact with approaching drivers to make sure they see you.
-Don't assume that because you are in a crosswalk or are crossing with a signal that drivers actually see you.
-Regardless of walking during the daylight or night time hours, always wear bright and reflective clothing and carry a light with you.
-It is also a good idea to have some type of flashing light with you just to improve the chances that you will be seen by motorists.

Remember: Put your best foot forward before crossing the street!
At the least, why isn't there an equivalent warning for drivers?
Especially in poor weather conditions, observing the Basic Rule may require speeds substantially below the posted limits. Assume any street corner is an unmarked crosswalk and be prepared to yield to people on foot. People on foot are more vulnerable than those in cars and deserve special consideration. Etc., etc.
So upsetting.

Heartfelt condolences to friends and family of the Crosslands and of David McGregor.


Margaret said...

I completely agree that the media and police need to emphasize that motorists need to exercise caution as well as the usual lectures for pedestrians! I am going to miss the Crosslands -- what a great example they set for their dedication to walking instead of driving. A great loss.

Walker said...

Time for some white "ghost shoes" to be spray painted on the streets wherever Carhead has claimed a victim. Who's got a stencil?

Mike said...

Last night I was driving the kids home from daycare (this time of year it's not possible to bike them. When they're older I will) and was driving on Market street past Grant Elementary. It was dark and raining and there were a number of cars coming from the opposite direction so I couldn't see well. As I was going through the crosswalk I realized that a woman was in the crosswalk and almost to my side. Fortunately I was driving slower than the posted speed limit, which I do-much to the annoyance of drivers behind me. I was also actively looking for pedestrians.
That being said the woman should have had a brighter jacket. If a hyper-vigilant driver, driving slow on a good traditional street and who totally supports and understands what it's like to be the person outside the car has a hard time seeing a pedestrian it becomes more understandable BUT NOT MORE EXCUSABLE for an average driver to not see a pedestrian.

Ultimately the best way to protect against drivers is to make the driving environment more beneficial to non-drivers.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Clearly there is work to be done on all sides. Drivers slow down and be aware there might be bkiers or walkers in the road; wear bright clothes or wear a flasher to be better seen; and make roads safer.

That said, one thing that I have noticed in addition to all of these things not being done, is that newer cars have more blind spots. That is probably why many newer models now come with backup cameras as standard equipment.

My car is a 2013 Hyunda. The safety record is supposed to be better because the car manufacturer has beefed up the support bars at the window posts and over the doors. This 'safety cage' helps in a crash. However, as a result there are more blind spots for the driver.

I measured from the edge of the passenger window post to the tip of the side mirror and found that it was 15 inches! This is 15 inches of space on the passenger side of the car that when I am driving, I can't see a person walking or on a bike. This is in daylight. At night it is virtually impossible to see something unless it is lit up.

Reflective wear only works if there is light to reflect off of it. If you are off to the side of the car on a street with poor lighting, that reflective material is worthless.

People think that if I can see the car, it can see me. So not true!

I have almost hit someone 4 times in this new car in the less than 2 years that I have been drivin. Not that I am a bad driver, but because I can't see what I am used to seeing.

So, I am now trying to drive more cautiously both at night and during the day. I am now aware that if a person is in the crosswalk and I am turning, they can be in my blind an example, I was turning onto Lancaster from the Mall one time and a person was walking in the crosswalk with the light when I almost hit her. What was happening was that as I turned slowly, she was walking at about the same rate, and she was behind that window post the whole time. It was not until she was right in front of me that I was able to see her. Luckily I was going very slowly and was able to stop. She was on her phone texting or something and only looked up when I stopped about a foot from her! Yikes!

So, there is a lot of caution and work for all of us. Drive carefully. Be watchful! Wear flashing lights ..both front and back...and let's provide space between pedestrians, bikes and cars!