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Pedestrian Accidents: Slow Down Negligent Drivers!

Dexter Evans

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As summer is upon us we all will spend a significant amount of time outside our homes. For us adults, it is more work than pleasure as we make sure our homes are well-maintained and our lawns well-groomed. However, for our children and pets, it means much more time outside playing. After an especially brutal winter where our neighborhood streets were essentially ghost towns, it may take some time to get used to the unavoidable child or dog running out in the street to retrieve a loose ball or chasing after that pesky squirrel. How to prevent a tragedy from occurring? SLOW DOWN!

Construction zones and residential zones alike pose an increased level of danger for pedestrian accidents. For most residential neighborhoods, the speed limit is typically 25 mph. Most of us are guilty of going over that amount when traveling through a residential neighborhood, even when there really is no good reason to do so. In fact, some surveys have found that 80-90% of people who speed in residential neighborhoods are the same people who live in the neighborhood. Why does it matter? Because the faster you are going, the less likely you are to be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a person or pet. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • For a vehicle going 20 mph, it takes approximately 69 feet to stop your vehicle
  • For a vehicle going 30 mph, it takes approximately 123 feet to stop your vehicle
  • For a vehicle going 40 mph, it takes approximately 189 feet to stop your vehicle

However, the dangers of even going 5 mph over the speed limit are obvious when driving in a residential neighborhood. While the child or dog might dart out and surprise you, you will be the one looked at as the cause of the accident. For example, take the case of a 7-year-old boy who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle in a Florida neighborhood a couple years ago. Something considered but which ultimately was rejected was whether the driver should be charged with a felony for driving recklessly in a residential neighborhood. A felony could mean jail time affecting that driver’s family on top of the lifetime of guilt the driver will endure for killing a young child. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a pedestrian hit at 20 mph has a 5% chance of dying, at 30 mph a 45% chance of dying, and at 40 mph an 85% chance of dying. These figures are sobering. We all should slow down and safely enjoy this well-deserved summer in Chicago. Getting to your house a few seconds earlier is not worth the lifetime of hurt that both you and another’s family could potentially endure.

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