An article published this week in the Salem Statesman-Journal highlights an alarming fact: in this one relatively small city “between December 26 and January 15 three vehicle crashes involving pedestrians resulted in four deaths.”
The paper goes on to note that “all three crashes took place in darkness” and that “no drivers have been found to be at fault.” After so many fatal Salem pedestrian accidents in such a short period of time, however, some sort of an investigation is warranted – one that goes beyond the three individual accidents to look at broader traffic, pedestrian and biking patterns in an effort to make the city’s streets safer. The article quotes a 63-year-old South Salem resident who points out that the problem is the city’s large number of unmarked crosswalks. “At least 95 percent of cars do not even slow down, although they are required by law to stop and wait for you to cross,” he said.
The sudden rise in fatal pedestrian accidents in Salem is particularly troublesome because at the time of the first one, on December 26, the city had not witnessed a fatal pedestrian accident in over a year. The paper also notes that while fatalities are rare, accidents themselves are not. “Between December 1, 2013 and April 30, 2014 there were 22 pedestrian-related crashes in Salem that injured 25 people, according to data from the Oregon Department of Transportation” the newspaper reports.
Though the police run annual pedestrian safety campaigns the recent surge in accidents certainly implies that a new – or at least a broader – approach may be in order.
As an Oregon pedestrian accident lawyer I see many cases where relatively small changes to an intersection, speed limit or traffic pattern could increase safety, dramatically reducing the chances of deaths or injuries. The question is whether elected officials will act on evidence like this.
Salem Statesman-Journal: String of pedestrian deaths in Salem raises questions