On November 4, a car slammed into two young boys on their way to school. They were in a crosswalk at the intersection of Bay Street and Buchanan. The boys were hit with so much force that they were reportedly flung to the opposite side of the street. Both were taken to the hospital with severe injuries. The driver was arrested for DUI.
“It’s a way to bring a voice to those who have lost loved ones and bring awareness to the public that traffic deaths are more of an epidemic than people realize,” explained Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director of WalkSF.
That crash was just the latest in a disheartening spate of life-altering collisions in San Francisco. Less than a week before, a driver had plowed through a Laurel Heights crosswalk and hit a toddler, who remains in critical care. A few days before that, a speeding car at Hyde and Post in the Tenderloin slammed into a jogger. “These are not ‘accidents,’” said Ferrara. “We have the tools to prevent them from happening, but we haven’t made it a priority.”
In San Francisco, some three pedestrians are hit by cars every day, totaling about 800 every year. In 2013, 21 of them were killed. Lowering speeds through better law enforcement and street design can significantly reduce the carnage, explained Ferrara. Someone hit by a car traveling at 40 mph has only a ten percent chance of surviving. Cut the speed to 20 mph, and the pedestrian has a ninety percent chance of surviving a crash.
Working with the Vision Zero Coalition, Ferrara plans to continue pushing for street designs that prioritize safety over speed, as well as better and more consistent law enforcement–with the goal of reducing road deaths to as close to zero as possible.
The first World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims will be held this Sunday, November 15 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., starting at the United Nations Plaza. The group will walk along Market Street to Montgomery Street to the site of the vigil and memorial to hear from family members.