Check out my friend Andrea Okomski's blog Pedestrian InRoads. Andrea's son was run over in a crosswalk three years ago. He survived, but his life was turned upside down (along with his mother's). Andrea's boy spent four months in a coma. If you know anything about head injury, you know that's a very serious situation. I've met him, and his life seems to be like some sort of fever dream. Not what his mother hoped for. Not what he was entitled to. He's a good kid, but every day is a massive struggle.
Andrea's sense of outrage is that her son's misfortune is not an isolated incident. It happens every day.
Over forty thousand Americans die in auto-related collisions every year. Over a million are injured. As Andrea's story shows, many of those injuries are far from trivial. It's obvious isn't it? If an external threat killed 40,000 Americans and maimed 1,000,000 every year, we would spend billions to combat that threat. Maybe form a new branch of the Federal Government. But these accidents and injuries happen one at a time. We blame bad drivers, bad weather, or just bad luck. Driving can never be entirely safe, but "accident" isn't the right word for this level of carnage. As I walk, ride, and drive in America's cities, it's clear to me the basic problem is that many drivers don't take driving seriously.
Not that I'm exactly a model driver. I'm impatient, more than anything else. But I try hard to have good driving skills, which to me includes signaling properly and yielding to pedestrians. For the last six or seven years, I've been more often a pedestrian than a driver, and that has definitely made me more respectful of pedestrians, and more aware that too many drivers just don't understand pedestrian's rights, or don't care. That has to change.