Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Look Both Ways

Pedestrian dangers for people who use wheelchairs

By Tim Redd
Tim Redd
It should come as no surprise to learn that pedestrians are being hit at an alarming rate by motorists here in Memphis. This morning, the top story on FOX13 Memphis, was a person that was struck by car on Mud Island, bringing total of pedestrians hit by cars to 7 in the last 24 hours. 

Here are few of the news stories being reported:

  • A car hit a child who was leaving a church festival on Halloween night, according to Memphis Police Department. The child was taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in critical condition after being hit on South Parkway near Bloomfield Baptist Church.   
  • A pedestrian was struck and killed On I-40 eastbound at Hollywood. Police spokesman Louis Brownlee said a pedestrian was pronounced dead on the scene after being hit by a truck.
  • On October 31st, three people were reportedly hit by a car in front of the Memphis Funeral Home on Germantown Parkway.
Here in midtown, wheelchair users are out daily breezing up and down the streets in bike lanes. Unfortunately we have been affected by this growing issue too. On October 3rd a bent bumper and a mangled wheelchair were visible at the scene where a man using the wheelchair was hit by a car at Windover Road and Highland Street. The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition. 

"We do have an uptick in pedestrian crashes," Memphis Police Department Lieutenant Colonel Eddie Bass said. "We don't know what's bringing all this about. We're asking drivers to use additional caution when they are driving."

Wheelchair user in the road

In May, a 39-year-old woman was arrested after police said her car hit and killed a man in a wheelchair Sunday night on E.H. Crump Boulevard near Danny Thomas.

The National Complete Streets Coalition in 2014 ranked Memphis as the nation's fifth-most-dangerous place for pedestrians, trailing only the Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami, Florida metro areas. Last year, more than 360 pedestrians were hit by cars in sometimes deadly accidents. Drivers are not paying attention and many pedestrians are not using crosswalks.  Here are some safety tips to keep you safe.

Be Safe and Be Seen: Make yourself visible to drivers:

  • Wear bright and light colored clothing and reflective materials.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
  • Cross the street in a well-lit area at night.
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
Be smart and alert: Avoid dangerous behaviors:
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don't assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers, don't just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, he or she may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
  • Don't rely solely on pedestrian signals. Look before you cross the road.
Be Careful at Crossings: Look before you step:
  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
  • Obey traffic signals such as WALK and DON'T WALK signs.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles. Make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you.
  • Look across ALL lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Even if one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you.
  • Don't wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while crossing.
sidewalk blocked by fire hydrant