Most people don't speed. For some values of "speed."
DC police officer David Baker thinks pedestrians aren't paying enough attention, writes Michael Neibauer in the Examiner. They cross the street while listening to iPods or checking their Blackberries, contributing to crashes like those on Connecticut and Nebraska. He's probably right that there are many pedestrians don't pay attention.
At the same time, Baker's quote shows the auto-oriented thinking so endemic in our society (in addition to Neibauer using the common but dangerous term "accidents" to refer to 15 pedestrian deaths):
Some vehicles do speed through that busy crossing, Baker said, but most average 34 to 37 mph. The speed limit there is 30 mph.If most cars go 34 to 37, that sounds like most vehicles are speeding. Sure, they're only speeding a little, and I admit I often go 34 to 37 on roads like Connecticut. Still, let's be clear: most vehicles are speeding.
Many of you posted some great stories of police and policymakers having different standards for hitting pedestrians with a car and doing almost anything else bad in a car.
When I was 8 years I used to bike everywhere with my friends. One day, one of my friends was biking along a local road and all of a sudden a car pulled out of a driveway and hit her. She ended up being all right ...And Bianchi added,
But the driver of the car immediately blamed her and yelled at her as her bike was all mangled and she was bleeding. He said she should have been on the sidewalk and looking both ways.
[The police] ended up taking my friends bike and giving her a ticket. She was doing nothing illegal. She was wearing a helmet and going under 25 mph, but they decided that it was her fault that she was hit, not the driver's, who should have looked both ways before backing out. If she had been a driver instead of a biker, the guy who backed out of the driveway would have been at fault.
Last week I was driving on I-195 outside of Baltimore and I was pulled over by the MD State Police and issued a $50 ticket because one of my headlights had burned out. It had been working earlier, it just happened to burn out that evening. ... Yet the State of Maryland thinks the burned out bulb is so important that I should be held responsible for it to the tune of $50.Greater Greater Washington has a new safety beat contributor, Stephen Miller, who wrote yesterdays piece about Ritchie Highway. If you see a crash in person or on the news, send Stephen a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However if I hit someone and kill him/her while s/he is trying to cross Ritchie Hwy I will not be held responsible for anything. No ticket. No points on my license. Nothing. The State of Maryland values a burned out bulb more then a human life.
Here's a small sampling Stephen has assembled of the carnage on our streets:
- Cyclist struck by car at Columbia & Kalorama (Adams Morgan listserv)
- 23 year-old dead; 21 year-old in critical condition after car crash near Broadlands in Loudoun County (Loudoun Times)
- 21 year-old Suitland man dead after crashing into light pole on Route 50 in Cheverly (Baltimore Sun)
- Driver who killed truck driver on Bay Bridge in August gets off with $470 fine (Annapolis Capital)
Update: Bianchi and B make a terrific point in the comments: a car hitting a pedestrian is 75% more likely to kill that pedestrian if it's going 37 mph than if it's going 31.
Update 2: For those of you who wondered if Baker meant "the speeders go 34 to 37" or (as I read it) "most people go 34 to 37" and Baker doesn't consider that speeding: it's the latter. Here's a fuller quote from the MPD 2nd District email by Baker:
The first thing that everyone says is the driver must have been speeding. The speed limit is 30 mph. I did a survey of the area with my lidar gun and the average speed was 34 to 37 mph. Yes I had a few come through at a high rate of speed, but it was not blatant.
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