Many people remember being taught early on in their driver education classes that pedestrians have the right of way, and while there are legitimate exceptions to that rule, it can seem sometimes that many people do not take that rule to heart. For pedestrians that are hit by a vehicle and are killed or injured it is assumed that the driver of the vehicle will be held responsible, especially when they fail to yield when the traffic law requires them to.
But keeping pedestrians safe while crossing the street isn’t only an individual responsibility. It is important for cities to provide crosswalks that encourage motorists to follow safety rules and stay mindful that there is a potential of pedestrians walking across the street. One California family who was struck by a minivan last spring claims that their city had not fulfilled its responsibility to prevent pedestrian accidents.
The family claims that an excess of lights in the crosswalk actually distracts from pedestrians, while leading many into a false sense of security. The intersection also did not include a median for pedestrians to stop and wait for cars to pass or turn, whether they are doing so legally or not. In this particular case the minivan driver was not only disobeying traffic laws, but had been driving on a suspended license presumably for years.
Of course, the driver of a vehicle in this, or any pedestrian accident also needs to take responsibility for their actions, and take the time to look for pedestrians and other vehicles before turning or proceeding through an intersection. But if it is found that the city could have done more to either make the intersection safer, it could mean a greater level of safety for anyone in the area who needs to walk across the street.
Source: Ventura County Star, “Thousand Oaks faces possible suit for crosswalk accident,” Teresa Rochester, January 2, 2013