Archive for the ‘Distracted Driving and Walking’ Category

Service of Watch Your Step

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

I wrote about this topic last September after I saw a string of horrific car accidents in the city one after the other.

Why so soon again? I read Jill Abramson’s hair-raising article, “Struck on the Street: Four Survivors,” about the literal and figurative impact of being run over in which she described recuperating from her accident and the recovery of three of her now former colleagues at the New York Times. [Note: I wrote former colleagues as yesterday she was fired from her job as the executive editor of the paper of record, having nothing to do with this article, I’m sure.]

A subtext: Watch your step.

In spite of all the communication going on via texts, tweets and whatever, word hasn’t reached enough people about the national distracted driving campaign launched last month. Waiting to cross 50th Street last week, the middle-aged driver of a humongous black SUV was texting frantically when his light turned green. He didn’t move and the taxis behind him went nuts honking. Off he drove, making a left on First Avenue, continuing to text and never once looking up.

I yell at drivers who ignore lights and endanger pedestrians and I was shocked by that scene and how in an instant he could have ruined a life or worse.

I’m a lifelong New Yorker and jay-walker but the rules have changed: There aren’t any. I’ll have to change my ways. What will it take for drivers to do their part and put down their smartphones: Huge fines? incarceration? more senseless injuries and deaths?

 

Service of Watch Out: Take Special Care When Driving or Walking in the City

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Car Accident Second AvenueAs a longtime driver in both city and country apart from the whammy of nasty weather–especially ice, fog or blinding rain–there wasn’t too much to concern me. I figured in the city the worst that could happen was a fender-bender given speed limits.

All that’s changed.

Deer surprise-leaping onto roads and smashing into cars are an ever-present danger upstate making vigilance imperative even in sunshine on a crisp fall day.

There are no deer to surprise city drivers but the other distractions and impediments aggravated by traditional NYC impatience also affect driving and especially walking in the Big Apple. There have always been accidents involving vehicles running over New Yorkers and tourists, even leaping onto sidewalks. They were attributed to road rage, physical impairment and faulty brakes.

Car Accident 90th StreetWhat’s different is that these incidents–almost misses–have happened over the past two months and I’ve photographed the aftermath. It’s disquieting. One vehicle [Photo at top] landed on a midtown Second Avenue sidewalk at a time people walk to work. Another [Photo at right] backed up on Third Avenue at such a speed that it crossed a side street, jumped the sidewalk [where pedestrians might have been waiting] and stopped by slamming into an apartment building.

In the city I worry about distracted pedestrians intent on communicating as they walk down a sidewalk or wait for a light. They are a danger to themselves. I’m concerned about older people who can’t jump out of the way or children who are intently chatting or are oblivious to their surroundings, lost in the reverie of the music coming from ear pods.

Add bicycles and skateboards that don’t always follow traffic rules. A recent New York Post headline was: “Nicole Kidman bowled over by paparazzo on bike” and showed photos of the actor picking herself off the sidewalk.

The East 40s were awash with police during the annual September meeting of the UN General Assembly. I saw a pair crossing a street with the light on Friday morning. One of them barely missed being mowed down by a bicycle. The rider hadn’t stopped at his red light and dashed into Second Avenue traffic treating the city like a racetrack. The policeman put on a brave front chuckling when his partner and traffic colleagues teased him. He might have been severely injured.

Have you also been aware of increased road craziness in your town or city? Is it caused by a general malaise leading to distracted drivers and pedestrians or has the well recognized lack of courtesy or awareness of others moved from human interactions to bigger and more physically dangerous arenas?

 

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