We’ve recently seen a surge in the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed in the US by auto drivers. While most people would probably assume that the reasons for this surge are some of the more obvious possibilities — growing auto use, smartphone addiction, growing levels of drug use (illegal and prescription), increasing senility amongst certain portions of the population, etc. — the Governors Highway Safety Association thinks otherwise.
The cause according to the Governors Highway Safety Association? Drunk pedestrians and cyclists. In other words, a surge in the number of “drunk walkers” is the reason for the rising number of pedestrians killed by automobiles in the US — according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, that is.
I won’t say that drunk people walking and bicycling can’t in some ways be a hazard — I’m sure that they can — but it probably needs to be stated bluntly here that: as experience shows time and again, if you want to reduce pedestrian fatalities on problem streets … all that you have to do is reduce vehicle speeds through the use of lowered speed limits, speed bumps, stop signs, and increased enforcement.
Streetsblog provides more: “This week, the Governors Highway Safety Association issued a press release telling state DOTs that instead of telling people not to drink and drive, they should tell everyone, including pedestrians and cyclists, not to drink and go anywhere.
“Under the heading: ‘With Pedestrian Deaths Surging in 2016, Now is the Time for Action,’ the GHSA instructs state DOTs to include messages encouraging ‘bicyclists and pedestrians to consider safer transportation alternatives after heavy drinking’ because ‘ratios of fatally injured alcohol-impaired bicyclists and pedestrians have not fallen as dramatically as the proportion of impaired motor vehicle drivers killed.'”
That would, to my ears, seem to imply that vehicles are become safer as regards driver injuries in accidents, not that there are fewer drunk drivers running people over.
If it’s really a matter of drunk pedestrians being incapable of not getting themselves killed, then why are pedestrian fatality rates so much lower in countries like England and Germany? There is certainly a culture of public drunkenness in those countries as well, is there not?
I’ll end this article with this nice bit from Streetsblog: “Being drunk, just like being a sober pedestrian or cyclist, is only a hazard when you’re on streets with motor vehicle traffic traveling at lethal speeds. Victim-blaming messages like this won’t make people safer — they just give the transportation safety establishment cover for its own failure to reduce pedestrian fatalities.”
Photo by Transportation for America
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