“No Crime Here at All”

An awful story this evening, related to my post about speeding cars and pedestrians on Park Boulevard the other day:

A pedestrian was struck and killed in a crosswalk at the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Santiago St. in San Francisco tonight.

The woman was walking westbound across Sunset when a man driving a Toyota Corolla south on Sunset struck her at about 6:15 p.m. The woman was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where she died. Her name was withheld, pending notification of her family.

The driver had no stoplight or stop sign and stopped after hitting the pedestrian, and police said the incident was just a tragic accident.

“It doesn’t look like he was speeding or under the influence or anything like that,” said Sgt. Renee Pagano. “There’s no crime here at all.”

“Just a tragic accident” Nice to know that a car can plow into a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and as long as the driver isn’t speeding or drunk, they are not breaking any laws according to the SFPD. (I actually knew that already, because these incidents happen all the time, always with the same result — you can even kill two young children on a sidewalk and as long as you didn’t intend to do it, you won’t be held responsible.)

My recommendation to people on foot or bicycle: Always assume that drivers won’t see you, and act accordingly.

6 Responses to ““No Crime Here at All””

  1. eric says:

    It’s no accident, just as a casualty of war is no accident. 40,000 deaths a year in the US alone: every 3 years, as many US citizens as died in WWI; every 15 years, as many people as died in the Civil War. Worldwide, over a million deaths every year, most of them, of course, pedestrians.

    Shouldn’t this post also be listed under “urbanism” and “Oakland”?

  2. dc says:

    eric: Now you’re really making me depressed. Thanks a lot! I’ll add the “urbanism” category. Since it happened in SF, I’ll probably leave Oakland out of it (Oakland has enough troubles of its own without being dragged into SF’s), but maybe SF deserves its own category by now.

  3. eric says:

    Oops–I looked at your lead (lede?) and didn’t pay close attention to that of the actual news story…

  4. ng says:

    Don’t pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks in California? It has always seemed that way: drivers stop fairly religiously, and pedestrians seem to assume that they can cross without trouble.

  5. dc says:

    Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks almost everywhere in the country, I believe, but there are big regional differences about how much drivers and pedestrians observe the rules, and how much police enforce them. It’s true that drivers in California are more likely to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks than they are in New York or Boston, but on the other hand, many fewer pedestrians jaywalk in California than in New York or Boston, so drivers in CA are less used to having pedestrians roaming around in the streets in unpredictable places. I think this makes drivers less alert to the possibility of having a pedestrian in front of them. Also, in many neighborhoods and on many streets in CA, there are hardly any pedestrians, so drivers really don’t expect to encounter one, whether or not there’s a crosswalk. This makes life very dangerous for the rare pedestrian who does try to cross a street in those places. I think the woman who got killed in SF was 81 years old, which probably didn’t help.

    I personally prefer a situation where jaywalking laws aren’t enforced, and where drivers are less surprised to find pedestrians on the road, but maybe that’s my preference because I happen to come from a part of the country where that’s the norm.

  6. avoice says:

    The idea of pedestrians having the right of way looks nice on paper, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. I have witnessed a couple of serious car versus person accidents in intersections (crosswalks) and they can be gruesome. I saw a women in a wheelchair and her attendant, who was pushing, get hit on Beverly Blvd. near Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills when a car traveling west within the speed limit but directly against the setting sun, hit them both, killing the person in the wheelchair. The driver just didn’t see them against the glare of the bright light. The attendant–in retrospect–should have walked down a block to where there was a traffic signal. This is a six lane street (two curb lanes). Yesterday nite I saw a man in a wheel chair crossing a wide street in Ukiah where there are no street lamps, and there are cars traveling fifty mph all the time. I barely noticed him as I was pulling out of a drive way near where he began to cross. It was almost a suicide. Anyway, I lingered and aimed my headlights as he crossed to make sure people would see him. On top of it all, he was dressed in dark colors. I think that pedestrians have to be watchful and never just assume cars will be stopped in time. Their lives depend on it.

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