Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Driver Struck and Killed Teenager on South Commercial Yesterday Afternoon

Late yesterday afternoon, a person driving south on Commercial Street struck and killed a teenager trying to cross Commercial in an area with very few signalized crossings.

From Salem PD:
Salem Police are on the scene of a serious injury crash involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian on Commercial St SE near Royvonne Ave SE.

The investigation is currently underway, and the southbound lanes of Commercial St are closed from Keglers Ln SE to Boone Rd SE. Please avoid the area if possible. If you must travel south on Commercial, traffic is being detoured southbound on Sunnyside Rd SE, then back to Commercial St on Kuebler Blvd.

No further information on the crash is available at this time. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Police investigate crash near Royvonne and Commercial SE
Shatamera Pruden later died from her injuries (Photo: Salem PD)
And late last night, the update with the saddest news:
Salem Police Officers were dispatched to Commercial St SE and Royvonne Ave SE at 5:55 pm this afternoon on a report of a vehicle/pedestrian crash.

Officers arrived to find that 14-year old Shatamera Pruden had been struck by a southbound vehicle as she was crossing the street. She was transported to Salem Health where she later died of her injuries.

The investigation has shown that Shatamera had been crossing Commercial St in an westerly direction when she was struck by a southbound FJ Cruiser. Shatamera had been crossing north of the intersection of Commercial St and Royvonne in an area without a crosswalk. The driver of the vehicle, 31-year old Zane Hilton, was not injured and remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

There have been no arrests or citations and the investigation is continuing.
The area is near Winco, Goodwill, a pet store, and a bottle redemption center. Signalized crosswalks are not frequent here. There are also many ambiguous intersections where driveways look like a street but may not meet the legal definition of an unmarked crosswalk. The nearest signalized crosswalk north is at Kegler, and the nearest one south is at Kuebler, nearly a half-mile apart - so at the mid-point, that's nearly five minutes of walking on Commercial to reach a crosswalk with paint and a signal. This profoundly disadvantages people on foot.

Median (orange) meant to prohibit
east-west crossing along Boone farther south
At Royvonne there is a median on Commercial and a "pork chop" at the pet store, as left-turns across traffic have clearly been a problem. The work on Kuebler near Boon is creating a similar median and road configuration.

Could be a teenager, could be a person with a walker
Many of our projects to reduce congestion and improve capacity, even those meant to improve autoist safety, have as a consequence made things worse for people on foot, and fatalities like this are collateral costs we seemingly accept.

Buffered bike lanes and enhanced crosswalk near Waldo Ave SE
The safety crossings that came out of the Commercial-Vista Study farther north are meant to mitigate at least some of this kind of problem, and they should be considered farther down on Commercial as well.

A little over a week ago, Salem Police announced their summer crosswalk campaign:
As the weather becomes warmer and days become longer, we typically see more pedestrians out and about at various times of the day and night. It is in these conditions that pedestrian safety issues become even more important. As a result, the Salem Police Department traffic unit will be conducting pedestrian safety enforcement and education campaigns throughout the city during the summer months.

The campaigns will utilize plain clothes officers who will be crossing streets at crosswalk locations all over Salem. Video cameras will be used to record violations. Those who are contacted will be able to view the violation on video.

Oregon law requires all drivers to stop prior to entering a crosswalk for pedestrians who are crossing the street in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Drivers are required to stop if a pedestrian is either in the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling or in a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver's vehicle is traveling.

Marked crosswalks may be located at or between intersections and are recognized by solid or dashed white lines. Oregon law also states every intersection should be considered to have a crosswalk, whether marked or not.

Additionally, a vehicle may not legally pass another vehicle that is stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk for a pedestrian. Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and for passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk are Class B violations and carry a fine of up to $260.00.

This summer safety campaign is in partnership with the organization, Oregon Impact, in order to address pedestrian and crosswalk safety through education and enforcement.
The road design on South Commercial here makes it doubly difficult: It is difficult for people on foot to find safe crossing, and nothing about the road design sends any cues to people in cars that they should be looking for people on foot. In this environment, even education and enforcement activity by Police has limited utility. We need our road design to convey a better message.

Update, July 6th

There's a nice profile of Pruden and of her mother's advocacy on the front page today. It also includes a picture of a person crossing  - playing frogger, really - at this site.

Killed in 2017
Killed in 2016:
Killed in 2015:


Jen B said...

Driving by this place yesterday after the accident, I saw 2 people crossing in the exact same place, coming up onto the west sidewalk just feet from the tree where there is a small memorial for Shatamera. Traffic is cresting a small incline just south of there, and it moves fast.

There are not enough crosswalks on these long city blocks, and pedestrians are definitely at a disadvantage. Thank you for posting this.

Evan said...

Supremely sad. As you note, this is the consequence of 40 mph (marked) streets that read like you should drive 50 mph on. Very often when I drive the speed limit on Commercial I get people mad at me for not breaking the law.

This was a preventable crash, not an unpreventable accident.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Since the initial reports disclosed nothing about the speed of the driver or whether there might have been a turning movement involved, I didn't dwell on design speed - but Evan is exactly right. Design speed and 85th percentile speeds are a problem. Here's a discussion of speed from the Commercial-Vista Corridor study, "Survey on Commercial-Vista Corridor Study Misses Significance of Speed," on an area a little north of this problem area.

85th percentile speeds, the speed which 15% of drivers meet or exceed, is routinely 10mph or more over the posted speed limits. BikePortland has a note about HB 2409 for red light camera speeding citations, and signed into law by the Governor, which says "citations will only be issued if someone is going 11 miles or more over the posted speed limit." There is broad acceptance that 10mph of speeding is benign and should be overlooked.

But on our arterial roads posted for 30, 35, or 40 mph, a seemingly innocuous increase of 10mph over the posted speed creates a near certainty of death in a crash with a person on foot or on bike. The lethality of impact just skyrockets above 30mph, at which survival is basically a 50/50 coin-flip.

The City and autoist advocates may want to limit the countermeasures to a crosswalk - but in fact we have real system problems that are not geographically limited to a particular area.

(Edit: Also, updated the piece with clips from the front-pager today.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Salem PD recently sent out a release on the crosswalk project:

"The Salem Police Department Traffic Control Unit conducted a vehicle-pedestrian safety campaign on August 15th, 2017. The goal of these safety campaigns is to enhance safety in our community through education to both pedestrians and vehicle operators. Locations are chosen based on crash and complaint data received by the department.

The location designated for this campaign was Summer St NE at Hood St NE. This location was selected due to numerous complaints in the area of the Boys and Girls Club, where people had reported nearly being struck by vehicles not stopping at the crosswalk.

Although Oregon law states that every intersection should be considered to have a crosswalk whether marked or not, officers chose to focus on education of drivers found to be in violation at marked crosswalk locations. Drivers were contacted, educated on the law and were also provided with educational materials in English and Spanish. Officers have also conducted safety campaigns aimed at educating pedestrians on their responsibilities as well.

During the campaign, 48 drivers were contacted for pedestrian-related violations, with the majority receiving education and warnings. There were 19 citations/warnings issued for other violations and one arrest was made.

The Salem Police Department will also be working with the Public Works Department to address engineering improvements which may help increase crosswalk visibility/safety at the above intersection, and will also continue to work on education and enforcement projects to enhance traffic safety

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

In the April 23rd City Manager's update is news about a crosswalk here:

"The pedestrian safety crossing on Commercial Street SE at Royvonne Avenue SE will be completed by August 2019. The $100,000 project includes installation of a rectangular rapid flashing beacon, curb, sidewalk, striping, and other site work."