A woman was killed trying to walk across Eubank at Constitution yesterday morning. As is often the case in these incidents, media reports are sketchy (and in this case somewhat contradictory), but it looks certain that the victim was properly using the crosswalk.
Officer Simon Drobik said that around 10:40 a.m., a black GMC truck was turning right onto Eubank after waiting through a red light. Alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors in the collision, Drobik said.
“As the truck turned it struck a female adult who had waited for the green light and was walking in the crosswalk from east to west across Eubank,” Drobik wrote in an email.
The primary discrepancy in media reports to this point is whether the driver of the “black GMC truck” was turning right or left onto Eubank:
Police said a 2014 black GMC truck was making a left turn onto Eubank when the driver hit a female adult who was using the crosswalk.
As it is extremely likely, based on prior experience, that these short weekend media reports will be the only news we get regarding this incident, BB will file another IPRA and pass along clarification on this and other details in weeks to come. We’ll also get a bit more information on the driver, as the news reports seem to erroneously indicate the “black GMC truck” was self-driving (a tendency we need to correct in such media reports).
Speaking of media reports, yesterday also saw publication of two excellent pieces by the Journal’s Matthew Reisen on the pedestrian fatality health crisis in Albuquerque, particularly along Central Avenue from the Fairgrounds east. These stories were top-notch, not because your humble blogger was quoted here and there, but because Reisen accurately portrays our law enforcement mantras:
“It’s very rare” to see a driver face serious charges like vehicular homicide – even in deadly crashes, said Sgt. Michael Loftis, with APD’s traffic unit. When someone is charged in these cases, it’s typically for something like careless driving or leaving the scene of an accident.
“We can debate. … ‘Should the driver have seen this person? Would I expect the driver to see this person?’ ” he said. “We can debate that all the time, usually it’s that pedestrian error.”
Loftis said most pedestrian crashes in 2019 – as with previous years – happened at night, in dimly lighted areas with the person wearing dark clothes and not being in a crosswalk.
“Not being in a crosswalk” is so important to our law enforcement’s narrative of this crisis that it affects the quality of its crash reporting and investigations, as illustrated in case after case after case. A well-noted example is the recent death of Stanley Atkinson, found in the preliminary report to be, rather inexplicably, in “pedestrian error” for standing with his bicycle in the left-turn lane at Lomas and Truman.
Well, the victim in yesterday’s crash was in the crosswalk. And evidently using it properly. And she’s dead.
What is most ironic about the law enforcement crosswalk mantra is that everybody who uses them knows how dangerous crosswalks are. There is a huge amount of information, both from traffic safety advocates and objective researchers, on these dangers, but all one has to do to understand crosswalk danger is to try using one.
Have you tried properly using the crosswalk at, say, Montgomery and Wyoming lately? I did yesterday, long story, and if I had one immediate wish on this subject, it would be for all 100% driving/never walking Burqueños to try using the crosswalk at Montgomery and Wyoming at least once. Especially with plenty of “black GMC trucks” trying to turn, both right and left.
My very strong suspicion is that the “not in a crosswalk” mantra would disappear within hours.
Pretty much everybody would be making mid-block crossings, “not in a crosswalk,” by lunchtime, if not the start of Sunday brunch. But because so few of us, particularly so few of us with any political power, personally experience what it’s like to properly use the crosswalk at a busy intersection, very few of us understand why so many choose to cross mid-block.
There are many, many factors causing the number of pedestrian fatalities to rise here and around the country. Understanding and acting to mitigate those factors requires getting out of our black GMC trucks and pedestrian error mantras to truly see, study, and correct what is leading to the death of so many, including a woman who died yesterday trying to properly use the crosswalk at Eubank and Constitution.