Car Accidents with Pedestrians on the Rise in Colorado
When a car accident involves a pedestrian, the potential for tragedy skyrockets. Colorado has seen more than its share of this sort of accident, and police across the state are concerned.
Melinda Green, a reporter for Cortez Journal, enumerates the problems Cortez, Colorado has had so far this year in an article for The Durango Herald:
Cortez has had one pedestrian fatality this summer and two accidents with minor injuries. On July 7, Mae Wentz, 76, of Ulysses, Pa., was struck by a car and killed while crossing in the 1100 block of East Main Street. Her 12-year-old grandson, also of Pennsylvania, was injured in the same accident. On July 14, Randy Wright, 22, of Cortez, was struck by a car as he walked south on a sidewalk along the west side of Mildred Road between Montezuma Avenue and Empire Street, near the duck pond in Centennial Park. A 15-year-old Cortez boy was struck and injured by a vehicle June 2 while riding his bicycle on the crosswalk that crosses Main Street at Beech Street.
It is very easy for a car accident to turn fatal when one of the involved parties is on foot. Even if a pedestrian manages to escape the accident alive, the potential for serious personal injury is magnified.
Like Cortez and other cities throughout Colorado, Boulder has also had problems with car accidents involving pedestrians.
Take the case of Margaret Kumin, who was struck by a distracted driver while getting into her Hyundai.
This was only one of a string of car accidents involving pedestrians that have been occurring in Boulder — accidents that police attribute mainly to distracted driving. John Aguilar, staff writer for The Daily Camera (which also produced the above video), brings us more on the subject:
Karl Veitch, a 23-year veteran Boulder police officer with the traffic unit, said he’s surprised there haven’t been more vehicle-pedestrian collisions, given the proliferation of electronic devices.
‘Whatever people want to do these days has to be done right now,’ Veitch said. ‘They think they can handle the distraction and the car, and they can’t.’
The proliferation of cell phones, GPS and other technologies has created a constant opportunity for distraction behind the wheel. Even people I know who complain about others texting or talking on a cell phone while driving often seem to do it themselves. Here is some more data from Aguilar’s article:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 5,870 people died and 515,000 were injured in crashes in the United States in 2008 in which one form of distraction was noted on the police report. While those figures aren’t limited to collisions with pedestrians, Boulder police traffic Sgt. Jack Walker said it’s all part of a growing problem with drivers trying to do too much behind the wheel. […]
Highly disturbing numbers — ones to keep in mind next time you are in your car. Take a look at the drivers around you and I’m sure you will find several of them nonchalantly texting or putting on make up or eating, etc.
According to Aguilar’s report, Colorado has recently toughened its laws on cell phone use in motor vehicles, although only in the case of minors.
Walker said recent laws passed by the state Legislature could help raise awareness and cut down on the incidents of distracted driving. Legislation went into effect late last year banning people younger than 18 from using a cell phone while driving.
Aguilar’s report is extensive and well worth reading. In the meantime, be aware of the cars around you and don’t become a statistic.