When Cooper Stock decided to cross the street, he did so hand-in-hand with his father, like all children are taught. When the crosswalk sign signaled that it was their turn to walk, they headed across the street, like the majority of pedestrians. That’s when tragedy struck. Koffi Komlani had the light on 97thstreet too, so he made his left hand turn into the crosswalk and directly into the crossing father and son, killing Cooper instantly.
Sadly, Cooper’s story is not unique and in the first 15 days of 2014, 11 pedestrians were killed in New York City in accidents that were eerily similar. Why? It is possible that it is because of the way American streets are designed and the traffic laws that are already in place.
Should We Be Rethinking American Traffic Laws?
American traffic laws are built on the idea that everyone (both pedestrians and drivers) will do the right thing-at all times. Yet other countries, like Sweden have decided to do things a bit differently and are rethinking and revamping their traffic laws and transportation system. Their goal-is to reach zero pedestrian deaths. So far, their system is working and they now have the lowest pedestrian death rate in the world with just 2.7 per 100,000 people annually. By comparison, the United States as 10.
So far, 23 American cities are taking notes and trying to mimic the changes that Sweden has made. For starters, they have begun classifying these types of incidents as collisions and not accidents. The word accident implies that these types of situations are unavoidable, when in reality-they should never occur.
Safety experts consider the left turn in America to be one of the country’s deadliest traffic laws. Making a left turn on a green arrow, a yellow flashing arrow, or even a green light may be legal, but it is also dangerous to pedestrians that are crossing. Car drivers are often looking at oncoming traffic rather than on the pedestrians that may or may not be in the crosswalk. By the time they see them; it is often too late.
The problem with this traffic law is that the left-turning driver has to do many things at one time and his or her attention is divided. The left turn driver must see and yield to oncoming traffic. This includes judging the distance and the rate of speed that the oncoming traffic is approaching. The driver must watch their signal too, to see if it turns yellow, red, or remains green. All this occurs, while pedestrians are crossing-often oblivious to left-turning drivers.
While pedestrians are at increased risk for accidents, left-turning drivers also endanger oncoming motorcyclists. Because of a motorcycle’s low profile, left-turning motorists often fail to recognize motorcycles that are approaching. The result is a driver that pulls out in front of an oncoming motorcyclist-and the result is tragically fatal for the majority of motorcyclists.
Avoiding Deadly Pedestrian & Motorcycle Accidents
While American cities and law enforcement officials turn their attention to improving our traffic laws here in the states, American drivers can do their part to ensure pedestrian safety. When making a left turn, it is critical to look to the left and observe the crosswalk prior to making a left turn. Do not speed through the intersection when turning, in case you have to stop emergently. When you are able to turn left safely, do so cautiously and be aware of all your surroundings. Be sure you are using all of your turn signals and whenever possible, wait for a green arrow before turning.
Even when you have a green arrow, motorists need to be aware of pedestrians that also have the right of way. Realizing that you are not the only ones with the right to cross in that direction can enhance a driver’s awareness and possibly prevent deadly accidents—like the one that killed Cooper Stock.
Contact Our Denver Car Accident Lawyers
The experienced car accident lawyers at Denver Trial Lawyers ® have the experience and resources needed to tackle even the toughest and most complex car accident case. If you or someone you love is injured in a car crash, it is important to retain a lawyer immediately. Our Denver injury lawyers will review your case and help you choose the legal path that is best for you and your family.
In a free consultation, an attorney at Denver Trial Lawyers ® can inform you of your rights, educate you about the legal process, and discuss how we may be able to obtain compensation for you.