Crash Injures Two Young Girls in Crosswalk. CVC a Third Victim

The crosswalk at via Google Maps
The crosswalk at Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Archwood Street via Google Maps

What use is a law if nobody bothers to enforce it?

Case in point: a story in today’s Daily News there was a story about a “Jeep v pedestrian” crash that sent two young girls from the crosswalk to the hospital.  Compounding the tragedy, the LAPD looked at the crash description and decided that nobody was at fault.  First, let’s look at the crash description:

The girls — ages 10 and 12 — were in a marked crosswalk on Laurel Canyon Boulevard near Archwood Street when a Jeep Wrangler hit them around 7:20 p.m., said Detective Bill Bustos of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic Division…

…”He was just driving down the street and unfortunately, did not see the girls,” Bustos said. “The girls, when they were crossing the street, we don’t know if they saw the car.”

I guess it was just an accident, then.  No harm, no foul.

California Vehicle Code Section 21950 (a) states unambiguously:

The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

I checked the rest of the chapter. I didn’t see anything about saying one “didn’t see the girls” after the crash.

  • Katie M.

    Oh, I understand why the penalties are low, I’m just wondering which set of politicians to complain to…

  • Sgt. David Krumer

    @Katie M.

    It would be your state representatives.

  • barbarena

    This “one size fits all” approach to crosswalks without traffic lights is outdated. All such crosswalks should undergo a study that takes into account the length of the crosswalk (width of street), speed limit, utilization of street by motorists (average amount of traffic), etc. If it is determined that a child can not cross within a reasonable amount of time for a motorist at x distance going x mph to safely see the child and react, then either a light should be installed or the intersection should be marked as a “No Crossing” zone. The idea under the current code that all crosswalks, marked or not, are traversable at-will by pedestrians does not work with today’s “bigger/faster” transit designs. If the code were changed and pedestrians crossed at unsafe “No Crossing” intersections, it would be akin to jaywalking. Of course all motorists have a moral obligation to yield to pedestrians that are jaywalking, but unsafe crossing by pedestrians needs to be discouraged and not promulgated by the current code.

  • Roadblock

    @barbarena your ignorance is phenomenal. Ragingly so. Your argument is akin to asking rape victims to stop dressing like sluts. People need to cross the effin street! And You can’t change the fact that people need to cross the effin street you can only create a safer environment for it. First and foremost is waking up the a-holes in cars who think they should have priority, don’t pay attention and so forth. THEY are the ones who need to cut through areas with caution THEY have the 4000lb killing machines.

    Our society should be working to make the streets safer and MORE accessible and friendly to everyone. That means reinforcing the validity of crosswalks. That means reducing the speed limits near crosswalks and schools. That means pounding into the heads of drivers that they need to slow down and respect all users of the roads.

    We need strict liability laws in this country akin to the laws in the Netherlands where the smaller more vulnerable road users are protected.

  • barbarena

    All people, including pedestrians, make bad judgment calls. In order to reduce the likelihood of a 2-ton metal vehicle colliding with a human being who made a bad judgment call, I think some kind of rational basis (a study) should be made at wide, busy intersections and a light installed or the intersection blacked-out for pedestrians. Ideally the study would include alternative crosspoints if a light can not be installed. By alternative crosspoints I mean how much time it might add to a pedestrians’s trajectory to go to the next lighted crosspoint. A reasonable amount of time should be taken into consideration. The idea that a pedestrian is unwilling to walk, say, an extra five minutes, to the next safe crosspoint is part of the present mindset that a pedestrian has the right to step off any curb and march into traffic at any intersection, some of which are not meant to be crossed by pedestrians. To me, this is like walking around nude, not dressing like a slut. While it is still illegal to rape a person walking around nude, there is some legal responsbility on the part of the person not to walk around nude in the first place.

  • We got ourselves a good ole fashioned comment war!

    In this corner Barbarena
    In that corner Roadblock

    Barbarena is an unknown so you can’t tell what’s up her sleeve.

    Roadblock is a tried and true street safety advocate. Having direct experience, and I mean DIRECT, with hit and run drivers, he has a unique perspective on this topic.

    If I was a betting man, I’d place my chips on Roadblock. His knowledge and experience will certainly trump anything Barbarena can throw at him.

    Good Luck Barbarena, you’ll need it!

  • Roadblock

    Wow. This is the typical selfish and ignorant thinking out there fellow pedestrians and cyclists. Might is right. If you own a car then YOUR timely travel is more important than everyone else and it was your kid’s fault they were trying to cross a street and got killed. Oh yeah and according to her, rape victims are “legally at least partially at fault for being raped.” this is the state of our country folks…. People like barbarena exist in droves.

    @bararena how about instead of doing studies to figure out if residents should “walk an extra 5 minutes” to get around in THEIR neighborhood we simply require drivers who cut through the neighborhood to slow the F**** down and take 10 seconds out of their commute to respect a human being?

  • Roadblock

    @alex how would I win an argument with someone who claims that rape victims are “legally partially to blame.” You can’t argue with that kind of logic.

  • barbarena

    @Alex…thanks for MCing…but there is no point in continuing this debate, I’m a Realist and he’s an Idealist, and, I don’t debate with people that attribute statements to me that I didn’t make (his use of quotations).

  • It’s the rare DOUBLE CONCEDE! But I have to give a point to Roadblock.

    @Barbarena you failed to win over this judge with your logic.

    Roadblock WINNER!

  • Roadblock

    @barbarena you aren’t a realist you are a “cars first might is right facist.” A realist would acknowledge that people walking in their neighborhood would not want to walk “5 minutes out of the way” to cross a street when all it takes is for a compassionate human being 10 seconds out of their day to slow down at crosswalks. A realist would look at models of street design that ACTUALLY lower fatalities rather than blame the victim mentality you espouse.

    Check the fatality rate (and traffic flow) of countries that have strict liability laws on the books and compare to Los Angeles and the US. They destroy our country’s crash and fatality rates anyway you look at it. That’s a REALISTIC look at the facts.

    May you never come across a rapist with an elbow fetish leSt you start advocating for women to wear elbow Pads to avoid getting raped…

    and google strict liability if you don’t know what that is. I have a feeling you have no clue.

  • @barbarena

    “The idea that a pedestrian is unwilling to walk, say, an extra five minutes, to the next safe crosspoint is part of the present mindset that a pedestrian has the right to step off any curb and march into traffic at any intersection, some of which are not meant to be crossed by pedestrians.”

    You say you are a realist. A realist would examine how people actually behave and point to empirical evidence, right? Such an examination would quickly reveal that people Will Not walk 5 extra minutes to cross a street. In China, the Philippines, and other developing countries, governments have built bridges over major arterials to solve crossing problems in areas with large volumes of pedestrian traffic. These bridges are now considered an obsolete design because pedestrians do not want to climb stairs and walk an extra 2 minutes to cross a street they could cross in ten seconds. That’s just human behavior.

    All road users “use their judgement” over and above the law. Drivers especially. If drivers’ judgement tells them to go 75 but the speed limit is 65, they go 75. If drivers’ judgement tells them to stop in the crosswalk so that they can make a turn instead of stopping completely behind the limit line, they will do so. Pedestrians are in no way unique in choosing to disregard technical laws like crossing prohibitions. If we followed your advice and prohibited most intersection crossings in favor of building a few well-lit crossings, pedestrians would disregard these prohibitions just like Chinese pedestrians disregard elaborate crossing bridges.

    I would argue that realism dictates that we provide crossings that are inviting, timely, and obviously safe at a frequency of at least every 50 yards. That way the travel time across the street via the crosswalk won’t differ much from the travel time via waiting for a gap in traffic. You say that some intersections “are not meant to be crossed by pedestrians” – but that’s because for decades we’ve been designing our roadway system as if pedestrians don’t exist. That wasn’t realism. Everyone is a pedestrian, even someone that has just parked their car and is walking to the store.

    Our current designs invite crossings at unlighted areas that are difficult to cross BECAUSE most crossings are unlit and difficult to cross. We don’t provide a better alternative. We should design for safe, frequent crossings to solve this problem. And because there are always going to be vulnerable road users like children or elderly people who can’t see well, we should design roads that naturally encourage drivers to drive below 30 mph. At 30 mph, a pedestrian struck has an 80% chance of living. At 45 mph, I believe the chance of living is 20%. (I got this info from a NYC PSA they did recently on why speed limits in the city are 30 mph.)

    Realism dictates design solutions that account for human behavior. It was never realistic to design major boulevards with 3,000 pound heavy machines traveling 50 mph next to sidewalks and people. The heavy machines, realistically, are going to kill children. It happens every day. The design of major on-street highways in the US is not a safe or realistic design.

  • roadblock

    strict liability laws encourage safer streets:

  • Chris L

    @Herbie Huff

    England is going even further, moving towards 20mph streets (See their “Twenty is Plenty” campaign.)

    A difference of 15 mph is often the difference between a pedestrian living and dying.

  • Julia K

    @ Roadblock

    I hear what you are saying with strict liability but that theory is a tough sell in the United States. Strict liability is not about determining individual responsibility but a policy designed to spread the social costs of a particular behavior out over a larger pool. Americans tend to care more about “fault” and individual behavior then overall social policy as reflected in the heated debate over healthcare. People seem to be very unwilling to increase their costs even if it is for a noble goal.

    Additionally there are complications with strict liability in that it encourages irresponsibility. This is a very litigious country. If fault were taken out of the equation I see numerous people staging accidents in an effort to take advantage of the system. I think a determination of fault is preferable and more in line with American sensibilities of fairness. I think the real problem is that many believe there is a pro-motorist bias and thus the determination of fault is slanted. The key than would be to eliminate the bias but not the determination of fault. In this way all users of the roadway (including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists) are held accountable for their actions.

  • roadblock

    I totally realize that strict liability is a tough, basically impossible sell here in the US. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know about it and discuss the effects it has on safety which are very real and cost effective.

    It’s a mind blowing concept actually because it rests within a system that weeds out people from committing egregious amounts of fraud by staging accidents since at every level in The Netherlands there is built in protection for people from their universal health care to their excellent educational system to their road systems and traffic grid design… All of those factors discourage fraud and since practically none of those systems are in place here in the US, we will probably never achieve the safety and health of the Netherlands.

    Still, I point it out because it makes the most sense and perhaps even someone as densely selfish as babarena and the people like her might be swayed a bit. These are the people that most need to be reached, these are the ones who run from crashes because they already see the victim as partially to blame if not completely to blame and from their POV they feel like they have a right to run or be found blameless.

  • Although Babarena’s argument is stupid and poorly chosen, the point that many residents do make is that there is generally a lack of grade separated travel paths (freeways, subways, elevated rail, etc.) in Los Angeles. Forcing pedestrians to go up and down staircases for their safety is a failure, as our very own experience with dank, bum-ridden pedestrian “subways” in the City of Los Angeles has shown. But, generally, people do feel a need for speed, and that is fundamentally incompatible with an urban environment.

  • I would love to see a strict liability model in place here and would work to get such a movement going here. Without it, a lot of our cyclist anti-harassment and 3-foot legislative efforts are really just nibbling around the edges of a much larger problem. It makes sense and it’s the right thing to do.

    Strict liability is not “absolute liability” as a lot of folks seem apt to suggest by their understanding of the concept. Perhaps the term strict liability is too amorphous and undefined in our lay culture for people to be able to understand the rationale behind it or the inherent fairness therein. It’s a phrase that I know could be all to easily thrown around without a deeper understanding of the intents or goals. I like the more descriptive term “burden shifting” to describe the generic effect such legislation would have–the actual details of which can be worked out by our legislators and the concerned public.

    Fault need not be “taken out of the equation” as the above commenter suggests, but a burden shift recognizing the disproportionate amount of harm potentially caused by one mode of travel if operated in an unreasonable manner as compared to others is entirely reasonable. In the case of car vs. more-vulnerable-road-user (i.e., peds, cyclists) a burden shift seems entirely appropriate. And I get that insurance fraud exists in this world of ours, but I don’t see the widespread staging of accidents (as also suggested above) as (1) becoming a widespread reality, and/or (2) worthy of any significant consideration as a viable concern to condemn moving this concept further. It’s another red-herring.

    Why pretend all things are equal when they clearly are not? That’s outdated thinking and not looking forward.

  • Julia K

    Burden shifting is appropriate under some cirsumstances. We often hear of strict liabiity for large manufacturing ventures where they are able to absorb the costs of the activity and/or spread it out to potnetial consumers of that product. There is both political will and community support when the entity you want to burden is a multinational corporation. By imposing strict liability standards shifting the burden on motorists rather than doing an impartial determination of fault you basically insure that insurance rates will go up. They go up even for good drivers. You saw that the State practically revolted when they wanted to raise DMV registration fees. I think it a hard sell to the majority of folks to support a policy that would basically be tantamount to saying “Treat me as if I am guilty until proven innocent.” I am not saying its bad political theory. Just pointing out the roadblocks to getting it passed.

    Here is another thing to consider. The supporters of this policy would be cyclists and trial lawyers. Two groups that unfortunatly are seen as pariahs. Just by throwing support behind such a policy we risk stigmatizing the majority of voters against it. It is a worthy goal though an there is no harm in trying.


KROQ Steps Up for Wounded Hit and Run Victim

It may have a smart crosswalk now, but Google maps shows us the intersection that was. Too often, we focus on the issues that create a crash, and what can be done to prevent them in the future.  However, once a crash has occurred, there are real victims.  Once a crosswalk is installed and there […]

Pedestrian Tragedy in the Valley, Again!

This past Tuesday, early in the afternoon, 11-year-old twin sisters Sydney and Alexis left Walter Reed Middle School and began to walk home, a trip that ended at Colfax Avenue and Moorpark Street when they were hit by a car as they attempted to cross the street. By all rights, it was a tragic afternoon […]