When the media or a public service announcement ever gets out the message about taking care while driving your car around the youths of our neighborhoods, it typically gets aired a week before the start of school, and then gets mothballed for another year.
But the message is valid throughout the year, and is especially cogent around summer when our youths are out there taking advantage of their time off and the good weather. Two totally avoidable incidents happened with young pedestrians of West Michigan recently that highlight the need to educate everyone about how to drive properly around our youths.
As adults using our driving privileges across the roadways of our country, we cannot afford to be distracted by anything that takes us off the task of gauging what's coming up in the street ahead of us. One of those things is kids (this may include older folks and distracted walkers) that are close to and may enter the roadway at a moment's notice. You should be distracted by them, and be able to react at a moment's notice to what they may unexpectedly do.
Not all accidents can be stopped with that level of attention, but I have a strong feeling that the following two car-pedestrian accidents that came across my newsfeed could have been avoidable, had the driver been paying attention to conditions.
In the city of Portage an accident yesterday (7-26-17) occurred when one young boy crossing the trail crosswalk pictured above with a group of other kids was hit by a driver. Seven year old Nicolaus Moehle of Texas Township was the boy who died hours after the Tuesday afternoon crash near 12th Street Elementary School.
The witness in the WOOD-TV video indicates the woman never appeared to slow down or stop at the marked crossing, despite the prevalence of youths. Since the woman driver stopped for the accident, hadn't been drinking, and has cooperated with the police, it appears that she will receive only minor body damage to her car and minor psychic damage to her soul. Her avoidable homicide due to inattentiveness will just be remembered by a few pages of unread report at the local police department and a grave marker
On Tuesday, up and over in Grayling as reported by TV 9&10, another car-pedestrian incident was not fatal but equally instructive. According to Grayling police, a woman and a 1-year-old were hurt while crossing a street in Grayling Tuesday. The pedestrians were trying to cross James (Cedar)Street through traffic gaps at the intersection of James and Ionia streets when they were hit by a pickup truck. A 5 year old with them were not hurt.
James Street is a well travelled street in Grayling (even more so during their festival time happening now) and has a speed limit of 30 mph around the Ionia Street intersection pictured above. Unfortunately, the street is widely used by pedestrians due to the amount of businesses on either side, and Ionia Street is totally bereft of painted crosswalks, as are many other streets intersecting James. This could be simply remedied and promote pedestrian safety and traffic flow.
In the video, we learn from Grayling Police that the woman and her two sons walked into the path of a truck trying to merge into traffic-- so why did the driver not yield to the woman and her boys before doing so? Even more maddeningly, they try to defend the driver's error by saying that pedestrians have rules when following streets, without saying any rule that the mother may have broken.
There is no rule saying that a pedestrian at an intersection yields to a parked vehicle trying to merge into traffic; the closest thing concerning this is in the Uniform Traffic Code (R 28.1706 Rule 706): "Every pedestrian who crosses a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway." There is no mention of a driver merging into the roadway.
In this age of distractions, we need police agencies to crack down on motorists whose inattentiveness to their driving duties creates these needless accidents, not offer defenses for the dangerous driver who will only become repeat offenders if their careless actions are permitted. The consequences of the police and media not protecting and serving the walking public: a young boy dies and a baby boy gets sent to a GR hospital for evaluation, with no legal consequences for the drivers.