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Reader's Forum
Crosswalks cause false sense of security
Article published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Re: ‘Crosswalks save lives,’ July 1.
Editor:
Crossing Gulf Blvd. in a Crosswalk? Cross your fingers!

How many close calls do we need to have before we stop the illusion a pedestrian is safer in a crosswalk?

A pedestrian in a crosswalk has the right-of-way and can be dead right with a 3,000 pound bullet. Each time officials enhance (adding lights, signs and words on the pavement and now suggesting pedestrians carry flags) is telling you there is a problem that officials are trying to fix! Please understand we all have the same outcome of making people safer. I believe we’ve created something that has given the pedestrian a false sense of security that allows them to think they are immune, thus creating a danger. I’ve observed people in crosswalks on their phone, iPod and texting. My research indicates crosswalks are more dangerous for pedestrians.

Numerous traffic studies report a pedestrian has a better chance to safely cross the street not being in a crosswalk. The U.S. Barricades & Traffic Sign Study showed nearly six pedestrian accidents were occurring in marked crosswalks for every one mishap in unmarked crosswalks. After removing crosswalks, crashes decreased.

It was pointed out when crosswalks were originally added “rear-end collisions increased from 31 to 58,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Cities can be sued! “City sued after baby is badly injured in negligently maintained crosswalk” was a reported case in which motor vehicle hit stroller with a baby in it. The law firm settled with the driver’s insurance policy then sued the City for negligent maintenance of intersection. The basis is that it was foreseeable that an accident would occur at this intersection, that the city had known of the risk, and the City had failed to take appropriate measures to adequately reduce the risk. As a result the law firm reported that the city settled the claim during trial for $2 million.

“City has responsibility for safe crosswalks?” was appeal ruling in holding Seattle responsible when pedestrian died owing medical bills of $1 million dollars. A “municipality has a duty to maintain its roadways in condition that are safe for ordinary travel,” the court said in its decision. Normally the driver and city have been held accountable – the city for being part of the decision making to determine where is a safe place for pedestrians to cross and resulted in an accident. The city of Los Angeles was sued for $22 million. The plaintiffs alleged that the crosswalk where accident occurred was maintained in a dangerous condition.

I’ve been crossing Gulf Boulevard for over a half century, never having a problem crossing the way my mother taught me: Look both ways. I’ve always crossed at places where it seems safest. I trust myself to determine when and where it’s safe to cross: not a sign, flashing light, paint on the pavement or waving a flag. I believe officials make the best decisions they can with the references they have at the time. I’m here to offer some new references that will hopefully enable safer decisions for our community. Disagree? Then walk out on Gulf Blvd. into a crosswalk, my concern for you is you will not be around to offer rebuttal.

John Messmore
Redington Beach
Article published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
Submit News