Two Pedestrians Struck at 18th/Florida/U

Image courtesy of James Calder.

You’ve probably already seen the many reports on this accident last night. I’ve been having a hard time with this because it is literally close to home – I live two blocks away. I’ve probably stood where the pedestrians were standing when an out-of-control drunk driver came careening into them.

Although Dave Jamieson at TBD on Foot rightly questions recently published statistics (I’ve never been too good at math), there is no doubt that DC has long been dangerous for pedestrians, and there is plenty of evidence to back it up.

It’s rare to have a conversation about accidents involving a car and a pedestrian or bicycle without someone wanting to place the blame on the pedestrian or cyclist. (Check out the comments in any of Greater Greater Washington’s posts on the subject.) Pedestrians jay walk or ignore signals, cyclists roll through red lights and stop signs. All sides are guilty of being distracted from time to time.

But the only person who could have prevented the horrific accident last night was the driver.

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Pedestrians and cyclists are hit in the District every day. We're advocating for better reporting to make DC safer for all.
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3 Responses to Two Pedestrians Struck at 18th/Florida/U

  1. kob says:

    Not here to debate the driver’s actions.

    My question: Did that intersection contribute to the accident?

    A light sequence that seems to get some pedestrians stuck on the island is not a good thing in that mess of roads. Crossing that intersection, particularly on the U Street side requires a lot of attention; there’s just too many things going, road-wise, in that area and it’s a long stretch to cross.

    I would love to see some historical traffic data to see how it has fared, accident wise overtime.

    • struckdc says:

      my instinct, though it may be biased, is to assume that despite any flaws in the timing of the lights in the intersection, the fact that the driver’s blood alcohol was twice the legal limit was probably the predominant mitigating factor.

      I am also interested in not only historical data, but the data other people have been curious about: when there is a crash, what are the factors and who does mpd find at fault? However, as best as I can tell, that data is not currently available. I am working on it.

  2. kob says:

    I wasn’t suggesting that the alcohol isn’t the predominant mitigating factor. I’m just asking if the intersection needs to be redesigned in such a way to limit its potential for catastrophic accidents. The victims, according to the Post, were apparently on a traffic island waiting for the light to change when they were struck. Those islands, in my view, aren’t safe; they are small and there’s not enough space in that island for people to stand back a little from the curb; pedestrians are exposed to traffic moving close by in both directions, and this is a busy and confusing location. These risks are independent of the cause of the accident. But it is a true thing that the more risks that are present, the greater the opportunity for a bad outcome, which is what happened here.

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