More autoAmerican anarchy

Being another update about everyday acts of anarchy in autoAmerica:

Life is cheap in autoTexas. With 10 people a day being killed on Lone Star State roads, the Texas Transportation Commission says it will adopt a “Vision Zero” plan to cut that death toll in half….in 15 years maybe. And never mind that Gov. Gregg Abbott just signed a bill to ban cameras that catch and ticket red light runners because…well a crime undetected is no crime at all in Texas. 

“Time and time again, injuries and deaths have increased in cities that have banned automated traffic enforcement,” notes Streetsblog USA. “The debate in Texas was dominated by people who felt victimized by getting tickets. But for the actual victims of red-light running crashes, the effects are pretty devastating. These crashes are fairly high-speed and often deadly.”

Case in point: With the death of 67-year old Rosalinda Portillo, 67 – run down as she crossed the street – San Antonio recorded its 25th pedestrian casualty this year. And the year’s not even half over yet. “You’re really literally playing Frogger out there,” “Texas DOT San Antonio spokesman Hernan Rozemberg told the local ABC news outlet. Truth.

Not that Texas has anything on Florida. In Daytona Beach 35-year old off-duty senior sheriff’s deputy Frank Scofield, setting out on a 35-mile bicycle ride, was killed when the driver of a van ran a stop sign. “Frank was a fearless and dedicated deputy,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood told The Daytona News-Journal. “He had a giant heart.” Ironically, Chitwood is a longtime advocate of cops on bikes. 

Meanwhile in Altamonte Springs, a car left the road, ran up onto a sidewalk and collided with a man and woman on bicycles. The couple’s 18-month old son – strapped into a carrier on dad’s bike – was killed. “The fact that we are a state that embraces the ‘share the road’ philosophy and everything like that, I don’t think it’s specific to the incident because the family was on the sidewalk, not on the roadway, so that would not be a factor in this case,” Altamonte Springs Police spokeswoman Evelyn Estevez told Fox News 13. Missing the point much?

And in Miami, a hit-and-run driver was trying to make good his escape when a group of, um, traffic vigilantes moved to stop him. Reviewing video footage of the incident the Miami Herald reports: “One of the witnesses of the crash pulls out a hammer and smashes several windows as another person yanks off the car door handle — all while the car is still moving. The report continued “In the footage, one elderly man throws his hands up in the air and shouts “No te muevas!” (Don’t move!”) The man stood near the wheels of the vehicle and the driver then accelerated. About half a dozen people crowded the car as glass fell on to the asphalt. The Herald also reports that the hit-and-run suspect has received 29 tickets in 10 years. So, one for the good guys.

But in Cape Coral 9-year-old Layla Aiken was sitting in the grass waiting for her school bus when the driver of a pickup truck apparent lost control of his vehicle while making a left-hand turn, ran off the road and killed her. “The pickup truck’s left side tires left the roadway and traveled onto the grass and dirt shoulder toward Layla,” reports WINK News. The 19-year-old driver left the scene but was later foundarrested and charged with “Leaving Scene of a Traffic Crash with Fatality; Vehicular Homicide; Possession of Cannabis and Drug Paraphernalia.”

But enough about Florida for now. On the mean streets of Algansee Township, in Michigan, three children were killed when the 21-year-old truck driver plowed into the back of a horse-drawn Amish buggy. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that “two adults and five children inside the buggy were ejected.” The driver was arrested and “charged with three counts of operating while under the influence causing serious injury and one count of possessing a firearm while intoxicated.”

In Cincinnati drivers of two cars, apparently working in tandem, drove up and down a sidewalk multiple times seemingly looking for pedestrians to run down. A 41-year old woman was seriously injured after being slammed by one of the vehicles.

Speaking of autoTerrorism, in Draper, Utah, a driver reportedly toked on various drugs swerved across a road and hit an 11-year old girl walking a scooter. Reviewing security camera footage of the incident, police said the act was intentional. Reported fox13now.com the driver “got out of the car after the crash, aggressively walked up to the girl and said, ‘We all have to die sometime.’”

In the space of just three hours a pedestrian and a motorcyclists were killed in separate incidents in San Francisco. The deaths, reports SF Weekly bring the city’s “2019’s Vision Zero count to 14, outpacing the previous year. Eight who died were pedestrians, three were in vehicles, one was a cyclist, and another was on a skateboard.” Martha Lindsay, of Walk SF, said “This is a crisis, and city leaders must address it as such. And we cannot let anyone become numb to what’s happening. These are people, not numbers.”

And finally comes this depressing news from Streetsblog USA under the headline “States aren’t even trying to reduce traffic deaths”:

“Fifty more people dead in Michigan. Sixty one in Virginia. One hundred and six in Arizona. Those are the goals those state’s departments of transportation have set for themselves for road deaths under a new federal program challenging them to improve.

“Even some of the most progressive states are calling for more people dead under new “targets” for certain performance measures they must report to the federal government.”

Listen, when your state’s “traffic safety” goal contemplates an even higher body count than you’ve already got, they’re doing something wrong.

Stay tuned.

Author: floridavelocipede

A sometime journalist who used to string words together for a living before I retired to run a non-profit cycle touring organization that will henceforth go unnamed, as I have subsequently retired from that career as well. I write a bi-monthly column, theater reviews and an occasional magazine piece for my old newspaper. If I still had a business card it would read: Ron Cunningham: Trained Observer Of The Human Condition. Because like The Donald, you know, ego.

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