For the next few weeks, we, at the law firm of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis, & Lightfoot, L.L.P. have decided to start a blog series dedicated to pedestrian safety in the District of Columbia with focus on current statistics, different possibilities of parties at fault, current fines in place, and recommendations for reforming the system for punishment. This opening entry is meant to shed light on the harsh reality of the dangers and high frequency that pedestrian accidents occur in DC.
Because our DC office is located extremely close to the GWU Hospital, the sound of an ambulance siren is almost as common as our telephones ringing (and sometimes it feels like they ring nonstop). After reading the Protecting Pedestrians report, produced by the Council for Court Excellence, I realized that the majority of these sounds are ambulances rushing to the scene of a pedestrian accident. “About three times every day in the District, someone walking on a city street gets hit by a vehicle and an ambulance rushes to the scene.” According to the report, the estimated price of a crash in this region was $1,363.
Now, it is safe to say that most pedestrians who were involved in an accident did not plan on spending $1,363 when they started their walk to work that morning (if they did, I want to know if their employer is hiring). But, after their medical bills and other related expenses were tallied up, this is the amount of money they lose by taking the cheapest way to work. It doesn’t seem very logical, does it? Although many argue that this is the risk taken when walking around DC, I still feel that there are changes that could decrease the frequency in which pedestrians are involved in accidents, or at least decrease the fatalities and serious injuries.
Because Washington, D.C. is consumed by pedestrians, we must deal with this problem head on as our population continues to grow. I want to leave you with a statistic from the Protecting Pedestrians report to think about: “At 40 miles per hour, a car will travel 59 feet in a second. Studies show that a pedestrian struck by an automobile moving at that rate has a 90% chance of dying. On the other hand, at 25 miles per hour, there is a 90% chance of survival.” A few miles per hour are the difference between life and death. I wonder if a few more penalties could be, too.
To view the full report on pedestrian safety, Click Here.