We have the technology and the knowledge to bring pedestrian deaths to zero. Instead, the rate keeps rising.
In 2015, injury lawyers were surprised that pedestrian deaths had increased by the largest amount since national records were first recorded more than four decades ago. But 2016 has topped the previous record with 6,000 pedestrian deaths, another 11 percent spike. And no doubt, this year’s number will be even higher.
What is responsible for this record number of deaths? I’m sure you guessed correctly: texting.
But not just texting drivers. Texting walkers.
Everywhere you look, people’s eyes are glued to their phones, whether they are walking, biking, running, pushing baby strollers, and of course driving.
The phone-obsessed are oblivious to danger. We saw that firsthand last week when a texting driver killed 13 members of a church choir when his pickup truck collided with the charter van. If there were ever a case that should get our state legislature to outlaw texting while driving, this is it.
On Tuesday, a young woman plunged 60 feet from a bridge in Northern California and barely survived after taking a selfie.
People are so focused on the phone rather the risks around them that they are just accidents waiting to happen.
Alcohol is another obvious factor in pedestrian deaths. Again, fault is rightfully placed on drunk drivers but pedestrians also have a responsibility to remain alert.
The Governors Highway Safety Association study found that 15 percent of drivers and 34 percent of pedestrians involved in traffic-related pedestrian deaths were intoxicated at the time. Drunk walkers are more likely to wander in front of cars and to not pay attention generally. Combined with drunk drivers, intoxicated pedestrians are put in increased danger in Dallas-Fort Worth’s popular entertainment districts.
Ultimately the driver has a responsibility to look out for pedestrians. This is especially true at designated intersections and pedestrian crossings near schools. However, municipalities bear responsibility for creating safe intersections.
Last week, a motorist fled the scene after hitting 16 year-old Aaron Lancaster who was crossing the street on his way home from drama rehearsal. He had pressed the walk button and proceeded once the flashing pedestrian warnings activated. The Timber Creek High School student remains in a coma, while police hone in on the hit-and-run suspect. My office made a donation on his GoFundMe page and if you would like to make a donation, email me and I’ll match it.The Alta Vista Drive / Funnel Street intersection is the same place where 16 year-old Hannah Perkins was hit just 17 months prior while riding her bike. And just 14 months before that, a 13 year-old boy was hit by a car. That’s three of our children in two years
The parents of the 13 year boy who was hit in 2014 lobbied for Fort Worth to improve the safety of the clearly dangerous intersection. Fort Worth put in flashing lights and a sign — clearly an inadequate response after Hannah was hit in 2015.
Will the city finally put in a traffic light after Aaron’s accident? Hannah has taken it upon herself to fight for this commonsense safety measure at a dangerous intersection. She plans to deliver the letter to the Fort Worth city manager and address the city council at its next meeting. Let’s hope they listen to her.
UPDATED APRIL 11, 2017: Police arrested 18-year-old Matthew Wyman at Crowley High School last night on charges of striking Aaron with his vehicle.