Public Hearing on Preventing Deaths and Injuries Caused by Reckless and Negligent Drivers
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The Solution is instead of flashing “don’t walk” is to modify the signals so they flash on “walk” instead. Additionally the flashing rate should increase towards the end of a cycle so that people would then be able to accurately judge if they have time to cross safely. This is a very simple idea that would make the city not only safer for pedestrians but more comfortable for them as well.
Pedestrian activated signals. You know, ones that work.
Signals that can be activated by emergency vehicles. The fact that we have emergency vehicles speeding through red lights with sirens blaring in 2004 is dangerous and unnecessary. The technology exists to have vehicles responding to emergencies to change red signals to green. Our city can be quieter and safer.
Another obvious area to make the city safer is to look at crosswalks.
Paint prominent zebra stripes at all crosswalks. In 1951 Britain introduced zebra stripes (lines painted in crosswalk) which is the same year that Herman Dengel ran over Elma Wischmeir in Cleveland Ohio, the one millionth U.S. Traffic fatality. Crosswalks with Zebra stripes are safer than crosswalks without zebra stripes. Yet many crosswalks have faded paint and many have no paint. This is just a matter of taking care of the basics, the things that we know work, before we do new things. but lets not stop there.
Design safer crosswalks. It’s no accident that 78% of all pedestrian fatalities occur in intersections. We need to make all of our crosswalks safer. Many crosswalks are inherently unsafe by design. What makes a crosswalk unsafe? Drivers turn into people. Drivers turn too fast. Drivers speed up to avoid red lights. Drivers back up illegally through intersections to find coveted parking spaces. Pedestrians have too much road to cross.
People should never feel endangered when crossing the street. Included in my written submission is a design approach that effectively deals with the physical design flaws in our current crosswalks (as opposed to human factor flaws like improperly timed signals, and inadequate signage and pavement markings).
Mid-block crosswalks. There are many places by design where pedestrians naturally cross at mid-block and by design are expected to cross at mid-block. Additionally, installing mid-block crosswalks on East West arterial streets is something that we should start doing.
A prominenat example: it is not inconceivable that 20,000 pedestrians a day use the pedestrian walkway on 44th street to get to Grand Central Station. Yet when pedestrians leave the pedestrian walkway there is no crosswalk. They have to cross the street to enter the north entrance of grand central. To make crossing safe for these pedestrians would require the installation of one mid block crosswalk. This is not a major undertaking. It can be built in a day. Again a typical example of how the DOT just doesn’t factor pedestrians safety and pedestrians traffic into the equation of street use again the “windshield perspective” the institutional cancer that I mention earlier.
Redesign the entire licensing process.
There are many drivers on our roads that don’t have the necessary skills to operate the vehicles that they drive on our roads because we give out drivers licenses without actually testing peoples ability to drive. The main problems with our current licensing system are:
1. It doesn’t adequately train people to operate vehicles.
2. It doesn’t adequately test driving skills at the time of issuing a license.
3. It is a licensing system that allows people to drive vehicles that they have no training for.
4. It doesn’t insure that people are physically fit to operate motor vehicles.
5. There are no appropriate mechanisms to retrain bad drivers, to supervise older drivers, and to revoke the licenses of dangerous and aggressive drivers.
Under our current system licensees are considered a rite of passage. Here’s how it works. At a young age motorists are given a test that tests very few skills that mimic real life driving conditions-- and that license lasts for the rest of your life. Except for a very casual eye test, license renewals are pretty much paper formalities, (if you renewal through the mail you can forgo the casual eye test) You’re skills are never re-tested. Never. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve operated a vehicle. No matter how many crashes you have been in. No matter how many pedestrians you have killed.
Redesign the entire licensing process
We need to redesign the entire licensing process. The model we should emulate is the licensing requirement that the federal aviation administration uses to regulate our nations air pilots. The fundamental differences between obtaining drivers license and pilot’s license can be broken down into three categories.
1. Training. In order to teach someone how to fly the certifications is much more rigorous and demanding than the certification for teaching someone how to drive.