2007/03/21

Your Car, Your Weapon

Another day another vehicular homicide in San Francisco. This time a driver turning left from a one-way onto a one-way fails to yield the right-of-way to the pedestrians in the crosswalk, one of whom takes offense and gets in the driver's face. The driver, after exchanging words takes his car up onto the sidewalk and runs the pedestrians down, killing one.

By my count we've had 4 fatalities in two weeks! 3 of them hit and runs! 1 out and out murder!

Perhaps it's time for pedestrians to begin arming themselves against the cagers? Start treating all drivers as if they're prepared to commit vehicular manslaughter? Our City? The police? They certainly don't give a sh*t. What with their pedestrian education programs and intersection "death clocks". So you have to ask if there is a moment when pedestrian aggression becomes justified...becomes self-defense.

How you gonna feel Mr. Escalade driver when, instead of being able to inch your 3 ton weapon through a dozen pedestrians, you end up with a gun in your face?

22 Comments:

i have been watching the car vs. peds situation get increasingly dangerous through the years there. very disheartening, to say the least.
there are simply too many cars in the city's 7 mile radius, and they have become really aggressive. i have observed some really close calls.
and you are correct-the cops do nothing.
God, that's awful. The section in the linked article about the little four-year-old was just horrible....
In my small town, if a pedestrian even misteps & veers toward the curb, traffic stops, crosswalk or no. Bicyclists are another story. Seems like a few go down every yr due to poor shoulder maint. But I don't think we should be pointing weapons around. Too many drivers are already packing. Now a concealed paint gun, boy that would really piss off Mr Escalade. Be careful, Kvatch! ~~ D.K.
kvatch, the article stated:

"Further explaining the lack of coverage is the fact that pedestrians killed by cars disproportionately tend to be poor people of color."

Why not throw in the equally idiotic observation that most people killed in plane crashes are not poor and not people of color?

The only purpose of this gratuitous statement is to suggest that motor-vehicle drivers are out to kill poor people of color.

Since the victims are mostly poor and people of color (what a phrase!), it's a certainty the drivers are too.

And more:

"The disparity is so remarkable, the World Health Organization dedicated its World Health Day in 2004 to traffic deaths worldwide, stating:

"Unlike in high-income countries where those most at risk of injury or death are drivers and passengers in cars, the people who are most at risk of being involved in a road traffic crash in low- and middle-income countries are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and users of informal modes of public transport.""

What a shock. The people most likely to wander into the street are the people most often nailed by vehicles operating in their proscribed venue.

Pedestrians should look both ways before carefully and alertly walking across motor-vehicle pathways.

Meanwhile, drunk driving was once an excuse for running down pedestrians. We seem to have shaken off that weird belief.

Until safety experts looked closely at cars, they were often weapons aimed at both pedestrians and the occupants. Steering sharts often punched through the drivers' chests in head-on collisions, causing fatal injuries to the drivers. Seat-belts, air-bags, better design of every part your body might hit in a crash.

We need better analysis of traffic risks. The left-hand turn problem is partly solved by increasing the number of one-way streets, thereby reducing the chance a walker is nailed by a driver coming from an unexpected direction.

I doubt the number of vehicular homicides is alarming. But with 42,000 US traffic deaths per year, 17,000 involving drinking, there is room for improvement in motoring.
No_slappz... Before you break your fingers attacking the linked article, you might want to look at the text of the hyperlink and observe that it's purpose is to highlight the SF PD's appaling indeference to pedestrian endangering traffic violations.

Pedestrians should look both ways before carefully and alertly walking across motor-vehicle pathways.

Which makes no difference whatsoever when a car travelling at any speed over 10 MPH fails to yield the right-of-way on a right. Moreover, in California, pedestrians enjoy the right-of-way without restriction when they cross at controlled intersections with the light. Only a car, already in a crosswalk at the moment of a light changes, gets the right-of-way to clear.

As for your assertion about one-way streets: Maybe...but lefts from a one-way to a one-way are the most dangerous for pedestrians because (at least in countries where we drive on the right), the drivers view of the crosswalk is often blocked by parked cars.
Annie, Nvisiblewmn... San Francisco had the highest number of pedestrian traffic fatalities per capita in the nation in 2 of the last 6 years, and we're on track to be number one again this year. I think the real pressure needs to be applied to the cops to cite red-light runners and drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way.

D.K... It was really meant to be more hyperbole than anything else. But there is a serious issue here (and it isn't Slappz's wild tangent ;-) ). We need an effective way of getting drivers to recognize that a 3 ton vehicle cannot be used like a tricycle. You can't force an intersection with 150 lb people, for example. If a driver demonstrates a propensity for this type of behavior, they should have their license lifted and the privilege of driving revoked.
*Rolls eyes, walks away*
Jesus, what the hell is going on? It's happening here too and this is a little area. Maybe drivers should have to pass an asshole test before getting their permit. If your test indicates that you have the potential for becoming an asshole, permit denied.
*Rolls eyes, walks away*

Hey Fred...does No_slappz remind you of anyone? Like say...Johnathan?

PoP... Would the "asshole test" involve a probe of some kind? If so, I bet we could get a lot more people to give up their cars for mass transit. ;-)
You mean Jonathan from "Crushingly Limpwristed?" Ya.

P.S.

Name that movie...


TRAVIS: You got a .44 Magnum?

ANDY: That's an expensive gun.

TRAVIS: I got money.

ANDY: It's a monster. Can stop a car--put a bullet right into the block.
I think they could solve the problem with better traffic management. Periodically stop all the traffic in all directions, no right-on-red, and give pedestrians enough time to get across safely.

In urban areas, the traffic engineers need to give pedestrian traffic the same importance as vehicle traffic.
Fred... Exactly! But about the movie, you've got me.

Thomas... We have a number of those "all direction" pedestrian crossings. Pisses the cagers off no end.
Perhaps they should allow pedestrians to carry grenade launchers along with their lunch box. That would even the power imbalance somewhat!

Cheers!
The movie is Taxi Driver with Robert DeNiro is the role that brought him to stardom.

But his mad desire to blast a few people who offended him was not motivated by their driving habits.
No_slappz..."Travis Bickel," of course! And Taxi Driver...excellent film though, I've only seen it once.

Daniel...well, grenade launchers might be a wee bit overboard! Need a solution that would scare the crap out of a cager without moving him/her to violence themselves. Tough...tough.
kvatch, I read the linked articles. The first has no connection to the dangers faced by pedestrians crossing city streets.

It stated:

"A parolee faces murder charges after he allegedly ran down and killed a pedestrian in the Mission District after the two got into an argument early today, police said."

The victim was killed by a psychopath who committed the homicide with the most available weapon -- his car.

The second article was written by a nut. Fran Taylor claims a vast conspiracy funded by advertising expenditures tied to cars has shut the mouths of, of, of, everyone.

Fran writes:

"Following the money explains the media blackout. Advertising on television and in special newspaper sections creates a wall against criticism of automobile dependence. No publication will bite the hand that feeds it."

I see. Is it Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, some other car company, or all car companies that build homicidal cars?

Fran goes on:

"Further explaining the lack of coverage is the fact that pedestrians killed by cars disproportionately tend to be poor people of color."

In New York City almost every traffic fatality receives newspaper coverage. In fact, most motor-vehicle/pedestrian fatalities occur in poor neighborhoods. Drivers are often impaired when they nail their victims. The penalties have increased where criminal negligence is discovered.

Meanwhile, Queens Boulevard, which is a major route through Queens is alternately known as the "Highway of Death". Senior citizens are nailed along this road often enough that every case receives prominent local news coverage.

The Dept of Transportation is studying the road and its traffic patterns. It's heavily traveled and it passes though heavily residential neighborhoods, some of which are home to many retirees. The road is lined for miles with shops and stores, movie theaters, bars, everything.

There's no obvious solution. But, the easiest step to take is one aimed at self-preservation. Don't cross a busy street with long straight sections where cars easily reach speeds too high to stop or avoid inattentive pedestrians.

There is an affluent neighborhood in Brooklyn known as Park Slope that was facing changes on two of its main roadways. The Dept of Transportation announced plans to change two two-way avenues into one-way avenues to improve pedestrian safety. The community shouted down the proposal at a public forum last week, claiming the changes would increase risks.

Once again, in the People's Republic of Brooklyn, mob madness has trumped public safety.
It was the second article that I referred to, and although Ms. Taylor may be a nut, she is not wrong when she asserts that San Francisco police typically refuse to cite drivers even when requested directly by pedestrians who've observed an illegal act. In the last year for which statistics were available (2005), it would have been impossible to determine our percentage of alcohol/impairment related pedestrian fatalities since in less than 50% of the cases was the perp identified, or when identified even cited for a violation.
kvatch, you wrote:

"In the last year for which statistics were available (2005), it would have been impossible to determine our percentage of alcohol/impairment related pedestrian fatalities since in less than 50% of the cases was the perp identified, or when identified even cited for a violation."

If you're claiming that more than 50% of pedestrian fatalities occur in hit-and-run collisions, there's an extraordinary problem in San Francisco.

Every once in a while in NY City, a driver who stops after hitting pedestrian is subsequently beaten by the witnesses. Of course these driver beatings occur ONLY in poor neighborhoods home to people of color. Thus, the lesson to learn is the one about the risk of honoring your legal obligations.

Meanwhile, there's no penalty for calling 911 to report the accident and then driving to safety in an affluent neighborhood unpopulated by people of color.

The worst example of bad behavior by lots of people of color in NY City occurred in 1991 when a riot broke out in Crown Heights Brooklyn after a Jewish driver hit a black child. The riot lasted two days and included the murder of a Jew from Australia visiting friends. A rumor claiming that a Jewish ambulance refused to take the black child to the hospital and instead would only transport the Jewish driver who was attacked by the friendly neighborhood crowd spread quickly.

But the rumor wasn't true. The upshot, however, is that people often leave the scene if the scene is a bad neighborhood.
meat_Slappz

I'm willing to bet you've never been laid in your life. Judging by your addition to the commentary here over the last few days, if a girl asked you, "I bet you'd like to come up stairs for some coffee," with a 'come hither' look on her face, you'd say, "Actually it's rather late in the day for coffee, I'm hypersensitive to caffeine and if I have to much late at night I'd fail to be able to get the rest required to have a productive day at work tomorrow..."

Being contrary just for the sake of it starts to wear rather thin after the third chapter of one of your dissertations...
frederick, you wagered:

"I'm willing to bet you've never been laid in your life."

Really. How much? Would you bet your net worth? Can you borrow a lot of money? Have you got a house you can sign over?

Let me know.
Laughter is not what this post calls for, but I have to confess I find something terribly comical in the Pedestrain murder incident!

"The gods must be crazy"
Naj... Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately for us this is the second time in 6 months that a car has been used as a murder weapon around here. Late last year, a man used his SUV to run down 14 people, killing 1.

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