When plans for the city’s light rail were first announced, there was no shortage of skeptics living in Phoenix, and this skepticism remained through the early stages of construction and into the initial operations of the public transit system. Now, nearly five years after it accepted its first riders, the light rail is set to pass all original expectations regarding use and occupancy.
The light rail has provided a needed service downtown and has helped the revitalization efforts of the area. Without it, more people would be forced to commute and travel by private car, leading to increased traffic, greater gasoline consumption, and higher smog rates throughout the valley. Though with the recognition of all the added benefits provided by the light rail, there is one safety concern that should not be overlooked: riders are jaywalking at increasing rates, placing themselves and drivers at danger for collisions in Phoenix. Not only are some people crossing busy streets in areas outside of crosswalks, some are even crossing the light rail tracks themselves at unauthorized points in an attempt to save a few moments walking.
Aware of this increasing threat, a local news crews interviewed some jaywalkers in the area of the light rail downtown. Many admitted to repeatedly jaywalking while others claimed it was their first time. Most seemed to think it was not a big deal and claimed that a lack of enforcement by police supported this position.
The Phoenix Police Department’s Transit Enforcement Unit disagrees with this latter claim and states that they do issue a large number of citations for jaywalking around and across the light rail tracks. Tickets start at $75 and increase to as much as $500, depending on the circumstances.
Metro Light Rail has started a campaign called “Dying to Get There” in an effort to increase awareness of the dangers associated with crossing the tracks. It spreads the message to the community and school-aged children.
With only four police officers assigned to the entire bus and light rail system, enforcement of jaywalking rules can be difficult. There were 132 pedestrians killed in accidents in Arizona in 2012 and that number is likely to climb if jaywalking continues to increase. Not only do jaywalkers place themselves at risk, but they also put the safety of law-abiding pedestrians in danger as well as the safety of motorists. As jaywalking pedestrians become more common, drivers are more likely to see them as a nuisance that should be avoided, increasing the chance that motorists will drive erratically and dangerously to speed up or avoid a crossing pedestrian. This behavior is likely to carry over to situations where pedestrians are lawfully crossing the street and makes these pedestrians more likely to be involved in an accident.
Pedestrians usually suffer the brunt of the impact in any collision and it is therefore very important that walkers exercise as much care for their personal safety as possible. This means crossing at designated crosswalks, obeying the traffic signs and lights, and yielding the right-of-way to cars when appropriate. Even if a pedestrian does everything right, it is possible to be the victim of an accident.
If you have been injured in an accident with a car, bus, or train, call the Phoenix pedestrian accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free consultation. We are standing by 24 hours a day at (602) 819-5191 so please do not hesitate to call us now.
Prior Blog Entries:
Drunk Driver Kills 1 Near Anthem, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 20, 2013.
Famous Journalist Michael Hastings Killed in Car Accident, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 19, 2013.
Jaywalking a risky epidemic in the valley, by Andrew Hasbun, Fox 10 News, published June 19, 2013.
Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts, Arizona Department of Transportation, published May 31, 2013.