It’s happened again. A pedestrian in St. Paul was hit and seriously hurt in a crosswalk because a driver had — as law dictates — stopped to allow her to cross.
We talked about this in March when a mother and daughter were mowed down after a car stopped to let them cross Kellogg and Mulberry. The daughter was killed.
Today’s incident, according to the Star Tribune, occurred at Maryland Avenue and Greenbriar Street.
A motorist in a vehicle “larger than an SUV” stopped in the right-hand lane of westbound Maryland — where there is no stop sign or signal light to obey — and waved for the woman to the driver’s right to enter the crosswalk and on Greenbrier and continue walking south.
Once the woman was in the street, a compact car came along in the left lane of westbound Maryland and hit the woman.
As I wrote in March, the only way this can be prevented is for people in the far lanes to be more curious about why a car is stopped in the middle of the street the next lane over.
These are the sort of “accidents” which can ignite some passion in the public safety circles: is this really an “accident”?
“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health. He was quoted in a New York Times article yesterday that suggested one way to get people to pay more attention on the road is to stop blaming incidents on being an “accident.”
The Star Tribune reported yesterday that the majority of drivers who killed pedestrians between 2010 and 2014 were not charged.
Recent state law changes give prosecutors more charging flexibility. Since 2014, drivers are required to stop and investigate after any collision, not just after knowingly causing a major injury. Another new law in 2015 makes it a gross misdemeanor, rather than a misdemeanor, if someone drives recklessly and causes great bodily harm — a charge that hasn’t yet been applied.
An initial proposal to apply that change to careless driving, which has a lesser standard, met with resistance at the Legislature.
“Most of the time when people have an accident, it’s just ordinary negligence,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, who deliberated over the bill on the judiciary committee. “And everybody makes mistakes. But we don’t want to necessarily criminalize the ordinary negligence, because all of us would be criminals.”
Indeed, the car’s driver stopped immediate today and has been cooperating. And, it’s relatively easy to feel sorry for her, too, because many of us have faced this situation.
But 60 pedestrians have been hit in St. Paul this year so far and getting safely across a crosswalk should involve more than dumb luck.