The tragic injury/death of two teenage sisters, hit by an automobile on the way to school, clearly demonstrates a reoccurring problem. Month after month in Tampa and St. Pete, pedestrians and cyclists are struck by cars and trucks. The victims’ actions are questioned. Drivers always say they did not see anything — it was dark, the victim was wearing dark clothes, they were crossing the road, etc.
When are engineers, planners, law enforcement and especially drivers going to take responsibility? How many more deaths and injuries? Let us face the fact: It is not pitch dark while driving in a city full of lighting. If you are paying attention, drivers can see the road and shoulder on even the darkest night.
The bottom line is many drivers don’t pay attention; they speed, race to red lights, swerve, talk on the phone, text, change the radio, and eat. In this situation, the driver did not slow down even though a car ahead had stopped on the road to let the girls cross. That should have been a warning sign to slow down and pay attention.
Also at fault are the engineers and planners who design unsafe transportation networks, don’t consider other methods to access goods and services besides the automobile, and place too-high speed limits on roads that studies clearly show guarantee tragedy for pedestrians and cyclists who are hit.
Law enforcement then allows the aggressor to not take responsibility, and they do little about reckless drivers, speeders and red-light runners. They don’t even punish drivers who continually violate pedestrian’s lawful space while in a crosswalk.
This tragedy was not an isolated incident; it is sadly becoming a common occurrence and a public health issue. Let’s stop blaming the victims and have those responsible for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists do something to ensure our safety!