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A Crosswalk, a Pedestrian, a Truck: Who Loses?

In August, 16-year-old Renee Thompson of the Bronx had just left her job as a cashier at a candy store. Ms. Thompson was crossing the street at Third Avenue and East 60th Street when she was struck by a 19-wheel tractor-trailer. The driver did not realize there was a problem until three blocks beyond the accident when he pulled over. The passenger-side rear wheels had run over and crushed Ms. Thompson, who was declared dead at the scene. 

Ms. Thompson was an honors student with big plans for the future that included writing and attending Howard University. The truck operator, 36-year-old Henry Panama, was ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, failure to exercise due care and operating a vehicle without a registration. 

A new safety website launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aims to reduce the rising toll of deaths for those who walk city streets in America. Although traffic fatalities have declined, pedestrian deaths like that of Ms. Thompson are on the rise. NHTSA facts include: 

  • Pedestrian deaths in 2011 rose 3 percent from 2010.
  • About 73 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in urban settings
  • At the current rate, one pedestrian is injured every eight minutes and one dies every two hours in a traffic accident. 

Although most pedestrians do not believe motorists are going to stop at crosswalks, Ms. Thompson did. Ms. Thompson died. In a crosswalk, with a pedestrian and a truck, there is no question as to who loses. We all do.

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