All for $175

Posted: May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Three teenage girls were out for a Sunday night walk in May. This is a typical suburban scenario that plays out across the fruited plain. Many of us can relate to such a scene with the innocence of three girls bonding in the great outdoors. These days it’s heartwarming to see kids that age getting some fresh air after a lengthy school season. This school year was a bit different because many districts went to longer days to make up for the winter’s Snowpocalypse events. In a way, cabin fever set in for these students so getting out on that spring night must have been liberating though I doubt they would have admitted that themselves.

The three girls were on their way to see a film. At the same time, a speeding vehicle was traveling down the road that the girls were walking beside. The driver of that speeding vehicle was an enraged locksmith chasing a customer for not paying a $175 bill. The locksmith lost control of his vehicle hitting the three girls. The 15-year-old and a 16-year-old in the group died and another 16-year-old was injured.

The mad locksmith had run-ins with the law prior to that tragic Sunday. Obviously he was an accident himself waiting to happen. All of this for $175? The locksmith was charged with vehicular homicide. A life lost and others destroyed over $175.The thought of that fact is beyond sickening.

In the case of the three girls who were hit on that Sunday night in Cobb County, it did not help matters that they were walking along a sidewalk that “hugs” the long, winding and busy thoroughfare. In other words, without a curb, the sidewalk is essentially a part of the road. It does not take much for an out-of-control vehicle to leave the road, striking pedestrians. Would the girls have been safe if the sidewalk was set a few feet in from the road? If there was no way to set the sidewalk in farther, would it have made sense to place a solid, protective barrier along the road? Maybe or maybe not – I’m far from being a safety expert, physics professor or construction professional. Admittedly we cannot safeguard ourselves 100 percent in this society, but is there a way to deal with obvious tragedies waiting to happen? By the way, thinking of better protections for pedestrians in no way excuses the locksmith or any other irresponsible driver.

I cannot speak for other communities across America, but in metro Atlanta it’s far from a secret that pedestrian amenities such as crosswalks, crossing signs, paths and sidewalks have played “second banana” to roads. In this culture, the priorities have been to quickly get the houses and places of businesses up and “get ‘er done.” Certainly there’s nothing wrong with growth, but can developers, traffic engineers and leaders think about how humans might function within their plans?

Indeed sidewalks and paths exist in metro Atlanta, but compared to the amount of roadway out there, they are rare. Where there are sidewalks and paths, they are quite inconsistent – meaning that many of them come to a dead stop leaving the pedestrian to negotiate a path through the ends of fields that typically have tall grass and weeds well beyond the paths’ endpoints. Still, many times pedestrians must cross residents’ and/or shopping centers’ driveways – with a great number of drivers having little regard for those on foot. As a runner, I cannot tell you how many times I witnessed distracted drivers from that vantage point.

It must be repeated that there are no easy answers in any case, especially the one that took place in Cobb County. The only thing that is known is there are families, friends and acquaintances who lost bright, cheerful girls who were far too young – all for $175.

For more info., visit this link from WSB-TV 

 

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