Walking Into Danger Stay on the Sidewalk!
A lot of Newarkers spend a lot of time in the street, in preference to the sidewalk. They mosey across the street rather than cross quickly; walk in the street parallel to the sidewalk; stand chatting at parked cars on the traffic side, and step out into the street to open their car door without so much as a backward glance, as tho it is inconceivable that a mass of metal weighing thousands of pounds could be bearing down on them. They walk in traffic lanes, in dark clothing, at nite, parallel to the sidewalk, with their back to traffic, with headphones on, and seem to think there could not be any adverse consequence to such behavior. They're wrong. Oh, they won’t get a ticket — tho they should. But they might get killed:
New Jersey Pedestrian Fatalities SoarHere's another news item on point:
The number of walkers killed by motorists in New Jersey increased by 37% in 2002. State officials have no explanation for why 184 pedestrians were killed in 2002 versus 134 in 2001. But an assistant Middlesex County prosecutor interviewed by the Newark Star Ledger blamed the victims. "Pedestrians get killed for all different reasons and most of the time the pedestrians contribute to the cause or are at fault".
Newark Is One Tough Town (For Pedestrians)Traffic-safety websites talk about the need for “traffic-calming measures”, which means getting cars to slow down and drivers to be more careful. Not the problem; not the solution.
Newark is the pedestrian danger capital of NJ, according to NJ Dept. of Law and Public Safety data. While the city contains only 3.5% of the state population, pedestrians were 29% of all traffic-related deaths statewide and over 15% of injuries.
I’m a careful driver, but pedestrians who don’t themselves drive have no idea how hard it is to see pedestrians, or to stop or even swerve to avoid them. Drivers watch for cars, trucks, and buses, big, wide things they can see easily and need to evade because they can cause serious injury to the driver and his passengers. Pedestrians are very narrow. They occupy the tiniest portion of the field of vision and don’t stay within lines on the roadway nor heed traffic lites, so you don’t know where they will pop up, or when. Pedestrians are especially hard to see at nite, and most especially if oncoming headlites throw glare across the windshield. This is most troublesome in winter, when the nites are long and most people wear dark clothing.
A pedestrian may think all drivers can see him or her from 300 feet away and have plenty of time to take evasive action. Nope. Fatal mistake. We’re lucky to be able to see a pedestrian 60 feet away, and if s/he pops out from between cars unexpectedly, we just don’t have time to react. Consequence: one injured or dead pedestrian; one seriously shaken driver – whose insurance rates go up.
Is that callous? We have to think about costs, not just in grief and pain, but also in dollars and exertions by EMS workers and the staff of hospital emergency rooms, time lost from work, etc.
According to the N.J. Department of Law and Public Safety, pedestrian deaths in New Jersey ... represent 21.2 percent of total motor vehicle deaths in the state (compared with 13 percent nationally), and the annual cost of pedestrian deaths and injuries in New Jersey is $340 million.How bad is the situation in Newark in particular?
Among cities with populations of 100,000 or more [but less than 500,000], according to 2000 census data, NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a Federal agency] said Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa were the most treacherous places for pedestrians, followed by Newark, New Jersey, and Louisville, Kentucky.We’re fourth! in the Nation! I’m so proud. That same report adds:
Almost 175,000 pedestrians in the United States died in vehicle crashes between 1975 and 2001, NHTSA said. As part of a long-term trend, it said the number of victims had dropped from a high of 8,096 in 1979 to 4,882 in 2001[, but]So what are you trying to say, buddy? Newarkers are a bunch of drunks?
"Most of the pedestrian fatalities in single vehicle crashes were associated with urban roads, night time crashes, male pedestrians and high alcohol use among pedestrians," NHTSA said, adding that pedestrian alcohol use accounted for about 40 percent of auto-related fatalities overall.
I think it’s a lot more than that. The guys strutting slowly across the street are so coooooool! (or think they are). Yeah, man, you are cool. Keep it up and you’ll be REAL cool: room temperature.
Can you say "passive-aggressive"? That’s a very useful concept that goes far to explaining the invasion of the street by pedestrians. They aren’t careless. They’re contemptuous. "You had better watch out for ME. I am the center of the universe, and I will stand in the street, strut in the street, walk in the street with my back to traffic, and there’s nothing you can do about it." Except run you over. Oops. So sorry. Accidents happen.
Newark needs to educate its kids from the earliest grades about how dangerous it is to walk in the street. "Look both ways before crossing" are apparently words Newark kids have never heard. Well, they need to hear them, over and over again until they make doing that a habit. Teach them how long it takes to stop a car traveling X miles per hour, in the rain, on snow, on ice. Remind them that cars can’t always swerve to avoid pedestrians, because there are times when to do so would push a driver into oncoming traffic. Given a choice between running you down and killing himself and maybe his family riding with him, which do you think a driver will do?
Newark has good sidewalks in almost every neighborhood. Still, I often see people walking in the street parallel to a well-paved, tree-lined sidewalk free of snow and ice, in daytime! Why?
Jaywalking tickets need to fall on Newarkers like snow, not for the non-offense of crossing against a lite or mid-block when there’s no traffic, but for loitering in the street and turning a blind eye to danger. A blizzard of tickets might save lives, and it would sure help the city’s budget. Lawless pedestrians are a goldmine for the city. Make them pay thru the nose, monetarily, and they may learn not to pay with their lives.