A loyal reader sent this in:
On the night of a full moon this fall my wife was driving west on Robinson shortly after moonrise. She came around one of those blind bends in the road and almost ran over a photographer with a tripod in the middle of the road, obviously attempting to get a good photo of a gorgeous full moon. He was wearing all black – there was no warning that he was in the middle of the road.
One morning shortly afterwards I was standing at the traffic light at Mesa and Baltimore waiting for the ‘walk’ sign to light up – it was around 8 o’clock, in the heart of the morning rush. A gentleman with a cane left the Baltimore side of the intersection while the walk light was flashing red and counting down from 9. Naturally, he didn’t make it all the way across so he was stranded on the median. He waited until the crossing southbound traffic ebbed then continued to cross – against the light.
My mind flashed to the news of the Thanksgiving morning fatality on Mesa just a block south of there, and to the news of the recent conviction of the driver involved in the March 2017 death of a nurse at another nearby intersection.
There have been several pedestrian fatalities in the area and, except for the elderly couple hit in broad daylight while crossing Mesa near the Village Inn, they seem to have several things in common:
- They were late at night or early in the morning,
- The drivers involved some mixture of alcohol, speeding, and/or running red lights.
- The victims had been drinking/partying/celebrating/socializing in the Kern Area.
Our natural reaction is to be outraged at the drunk driver. Obviously we should blame the driver. Let’s also blame the state – Mesa Street is a state highway, they ought to do something. Also, blame the city, the police department should have prevented it.
Where in this discussion does the issue of pedestrian responsibility play?
Many people have proposed solutions, including:
- Narrow Mesa down to one lane each way (forget that it is one of only two alternatives to I-10 when it is congested by an accident).
- Construct a pedestrian bridge (it would have to be ADA compliant and there is little space to work with, but be honest, people probably wouldn’t use it anyway).
- Install speed bumps, or add automatic bollards that pop up when the light is red.
- Increase police presence (and more importantly, increase enforcement).
- Add more lighting.
- Tunnel the road under the area or elevate the road over the area.
- Close the bars.
I offer some things for pedestrians to think about:
- Someone’s Grandma said, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
- Mesa Street is dangerous.
- Dark clothes may be stylish, but they also make you hard to see at night.
- You may be in the right, but you could be dead right.
It is not my intent to blame the victims of the Kern Area pedestrian accidents, or to minimize the recklessness and possible criminality of the drivers. The incidents were tragic; young lives were shortened and the survivors grieve.
Pedestrians in the Kern Area have to be aware that there is danger. If you are crossing Mesa Street on foot, you are playing Frogger and you are potential splatter. Even if you cross at a controlled intersection, with the pedestrian walk light in your favor, it is still dangerous. Watch the traffic, be prepared to evade it.
If pedestrians are not careful, IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.
I would agree that pedestrians play a large role in pedestrian fatalities.
Anybody standing in the middle of a dark road on a blind curve wearing black obviously has little regard for their own safety. Much like people who take selfies in very dangerous situations and end up dead, these people are wholly responsible for their being in a situation resulting in their own death.
However, drivers have a responsibility to operate in a safe manner. Drinking enough to alter your ability and reflexes opens you up to the very real danger of an accident. People shouldn’t drink and drive. Other people shouldn’t make the government responsible for the decisions made by people who CHOOSE to drink and drive, nor should they point the finger at the victim and say they played a role.
It is a choice. It would be merely inconvenient to ask somebody to drive you home or take a taxi, uber, lyft, etc. It can be deadly not to. Those are choices.
Years ago I was in a bar and asked the waitress serving our table to call me a cab. She, my date and all three other people at the table all decided that I could drive and didn’t need a cab. They literally spent ten minutes convincing me that I was fine to operate a vehicle. I thought that was strange, being convinced that I was not so intoxicated that I should not drive, even though we had all spent several hours sitting together drinking.
I did drive, and everything was fine, but it could have been a very different story. I could have killed someone, crippled someone for life or caused suffering through some other horrible outcome.
But that would have been due to my CHOICE to drive after a night of drinking. I could have called a cab myself (uber didn’t exist back then) but I chose to allow myself to be talked out of getting a ride because I felt I shouldn’t be driving.
There is no excuse for people who choose to drink then operate a vehicle. Period. It isn’t the victim’s fault, it isn’t because some government oversight prevented something else from the consequences of the driver’s choice. It is the choice of each drunk driver that makes them responsible for their actions, and no one else.
There is no shared blame in a drunk driving accident.
There is shared blame for drunk driving. It’s shared by the people who knowingly sold and served a person the drinks. Once a person is drunk, they clearly cannot make a correct decision. So why does an establishment serve them that much alcohol? Easy answer. Money.
In that case parent’s should share the blame for any crime committed by their children
Returning to the Pedestriain Responsibility theme: Two nights ago we turned right onto Robinson about 6:30….the road was VERY dark and there are no working street lights yet. Suddenly we realized there was a jogger coming down the traffic lane, wearing completely black outfit except for some pale red shoes which were the only clue that we were about to run into him or her. Why this person did not jog on the nice pedestrian path constructed alongside is hard to imagine. Equally hard to imagine what it would be like to have a fatal encounter, even though not your fault…you would probably need psychological counseling of some kind for a long time.
A few minutes later we turned onto Mesa and there was a bicyclist also dressed in black, no helmet, and no light on the bicycle…that is a state highway with many drivers exceeding the 45 mph limit.
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I had a similar experience on Zaragoza a couple of weeks ago. Got up for an early shift, was running 5mph under the speed limit. Black-clad individual ran across the road in front of me in an unlit area (not an intersection). If I were going the speed limit I would have hit him.
I reviewed the dashcam footage later and STILL couldn’t see him until he entered my lane/headlights.
Don’t blame the state or city for the stupidity, laziness, and negligence of pedestrians. We live in a city in which people will jaywalk in traffic instead of walking 10 yards to a crosswalk that has a light. One real simple deterrent is to start ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking and other infractions. The word will quickly get out. The police department has refused to do that just as they also refuse to ticket cyclists. All police department ticketing energy is spent on ticketing drivers.
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And setting up little traps like a police car just out of sight giving you a ticket for not stopping exactly five feet behind the stop sign, when stopping there does not allow you to see what’s coming from the angled street on your right so you crawl forward and “wham” pay us $190!!!
You can’t fix stupid no matter how many laws you pass.
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Or how much money you spend.
Pedestrians who just walk into the street in front of cars, cross against a traffic light, cross other than a cross-walk, on the phone, TESTING and just walk into the street, bear NO MORE RESPONSIBILITY than the stupidity of DRUNK Drivers who are ALLOWED by the City to drive on the streets. And when THEY get killed or kill some one while driving DRUNK, there is little to NO punishment for vehicular Manslaughter in El Taxo.