Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ped fatalities are up: NJN coverage says distracted peds are to blame

According to the Tuesday, December 29th edition of NJN News, "distractions... by pedestrians ...are the main problem" leading to the increase in pedestrian fatalities (news report starts at 8min 14sec).

NJN reports that, according to a recent report by the NJ State Police* one of the reasons (others not fully explored by NJN) why pedestrian fatalities are up is that pedestrians are distracted by, phones, PDA's, MP3 players, etc.

Further in the NJN report they interview Tracy Noble of AAA Mid-Atlantic Region offices talks about "walking while distracted" however she also gets in a few seconds to talk about need for proper engineering that includes the needs of pedestrians.

The NJN report goes on to also interview Trenton Police Detective Rick Rivera who also talks almost exclusively about distracted or obstinate pedestrians. However, streetwise Trenton crossing guard, Antonio Wiley is able to get a quick quip in about drivers not respecting his authority and the pedestrians' right-of-way.

Now, I'm not at all saying that pedestrians are 100% innocent. We all know there is and have seen some really bad pedestrian behavior out on the streets. I am absolutely sure that many pedestrian crashes and fatalities are totally the fault of an obstinate and/or distracted pedestrians even on streets where all the best pedestrian facilities were provided.

However the tone of this article is completely unbalanced and sends a message that places most if not all of the blame for the rise in deaths on the pedestrians themselves. Not once, save for crossing guard Wiley, is there ever a mention of driver behavior being a cause.

For a comparison take a look at The Record's coverage of the same topic from the same date. While touching upon a pedestrian's responsibility while negotiating traffic, it in no way lays the blame at the feet of pedestrians the way NJN did.

As a avid follower of NJN News, I expected better of them.

* - Unable to locate cited report online so to provide link.


John Boyle said...

Here are "safety tips" from the NJ State Police -

1 - If their vehicle is disabled and if they are safe to exit, they should get to a safe location like a road shoulder; often accidents happen when people get out of immobilised vehicles and get struck."

2 -if your vehicle breaks down or a tire change needed in an unsafe location, call the police before attempting to get out of the vehicle

3 - cross at legal crossings
-inattention, due to listening to iPods and MP3 players and texting while walking, can cause accidents. Turn them off and be aware of your surroundings and traffic

4 - during the holiday season, there are more people walking while intoxicated; doing this in a busy environment can be as dangerous as DWI. Have a designated (sober) driver or walker accompany you home

5-at train crossings, people often see the gate down and assume that it's safe to cross or that they can beat the train. Don't cross the rail track if the barrier is down

bikepedlt said...

Is referring to "pest" pedestrian facilities a Freudian Slip indicating your agreement with NJN??? :-)

Andrew J. Besold said...

No, no, no!

It should have read "best" not "pest".

Freud had nothing to do with it. :)

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