Sedated Koala

Doing things differently since the Carter Administration

International Walk To School Day

“Despite the clear public health and safety problems presented by pedestrians being hit by cars, pedestrian safety is still neglected in the United States. Little federal spending goes to protect the most vulnerable road users. Most traffic safety programs are aimed at ensuring the safety of motorists, and too often pedestrians are considered at fault in accidents.” (http://www.transact.org/report.asp?id=156)

Why not turn International Walk To School Day into a lifestyle? The line of SUVs in front of our local elementary drop off/pickup is usually about a half mile long (and I’m not even counting the SUVs that try to cut in line by doing crazy maneuvers). For the most part, these families live within a mile radius of the school. What gives? Here are some interesting statistics directly from AmericaWalks.org. I am shocked at the decline of moving legs.

  • Less than 6% of Americans’ trips are on foot, yet 13% of all traffic deaths involve pedestrians.
  • Each year 6,000 pedestrians are killed and 90,000 are injured. One in five is a child.
  • Among students living within 1 mile of school, the percentage of walkers fell from 90% to 31% between 1969 and 2001.” (http://americawalks.org/resources/walking-facts/)
  • Parents driving children to school comprise 20-30% of morning traffic congestion in urban areas.
  • You are 36 times more likely to be killed walking than driving a car.
  • Almost 60% of pedestrian deaths occur in places where no crosswalk is available.
  • Being hit and killed by a car is now the second leading cause of fatal injury and the fourth leading cause of hospitalized injury for California children aged 5-12.

I was hit by a minivan when I was 19 years old. I crossed in a crosswalk. The person admitted he wasn’t looking and only saw people crossing when it was too late to brake. For those of you who don’t what that feels like: it’s scary, your life flashes before your eyes, you’re pretty sure you are going to die (especially the part where you go flying through the air), and it also fucking hurts. The driver’s lack of respect for his vehicle’s power and lack of attention to pedestrians crossing the street probably has stayed with him a little, but I am reminded of it every fucking second of my existence. Some days my arthritis and fibromyalgia are so bad that I can’t do much at all, let alone walk.

     If you are healthy and able, you should skip the car as often as you can and walk on your two legs. I guarantee you will miss being able to walk when your body tells you that you aren’t allowed to walk anymore. Perhaps people’s respect toward pedestrians would also improve if erratic drivers had the experience of “trying not to die” each time they set foot onto concrete.

Vehicles are killing machines. It’s time to take them a little more seriously.

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