Are pedestrians to blame when they are injured or killed while walking on the streets of New York City? According to some state legislators, they are. Last week, a 17-year-old was struck and killed in the crosswalk at the Queens intersection of Northern and Junction boulevards. The driver sped away after striking the young man. State legislators representing the area held a news conference to talk about the dangers of distracted walking, according to a story in Gothamist.
The occasion for the news conference was the introduction of legislation at the state Capitol that would impose fines on pedestrians texting while in crosswalks.
When questioned, the two legislators noted that the point of the news conference was not the sad death of the teen, but the need to put speed cameras at the intersection where he was killed. According to one, the comments were “absolutely taken out of context.”
Nevertheless, one of the state legislators said, “We … want to talk about how pedestrians also need to pay attention when crossing the street. We have the younger generation so focused on these phones, they’re not looking up.” NYPD officials indicated that there was no evidence that the young man who was killed was using any type of electronic device while in the crosswalk.
Are Speed Cameras the Solution to Pedestrian Deaths?
There are significant limits on where speed cameras can be placed in New York City. The state will allow only 149 cameras citywide, and they must be located near schools, can be operational only from one hour before to one hour after school ends and must be turned off during the night and on weekends. Whether a speed camera would have prevented the young man’s hit-and-run death is not clear (it was near a school). Would it even have been operating?
Moreover, is this a solution looking for a problem? According to state statistics, only 6 percent of crashes statewide are attributable to pedestrian error or confusion. In contrast, 25 percent of crashes are reported to be the result of “driver inattention.”