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Pickup Truck Hits Pedestrian

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 20, 2013 2:14 pm

(26) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Transportation, Downtown

Thomas MacMillan Photo A woman was hit by a white Ford pickup while crossing Elm Street Thursday afternoon.

The woman suffered minor injuries, said downtown Officer Matt Wynne, who was the first responder to the scene.

The incident happened shortly before 1 p.m. at the corner of Elm and Orange streets.

Chris McCormack (pictured in the driver’s seat), a Branford mechanic, was driving the truck. Here’s what he said happened:

McCormack was headed south on Orange Street. He had finished up some banking and was headed back to work. He stopped at the light at Elm Street. When his light turned green, McCormack began to turn left, while looking right to make sure no driver was running the red light on Elm. McCormack turned his head back and saw that he was about to hit a woman crossing Elm Street, walking south.

He slammed on the brakes, but hit the woman nonetheless. “I tapped her,” McCormack said.

When he realized he’d hit someone, his first thought was: “Oh my god. Did that really just happen?” McCormack said.

“I feel terrible.”

Wynne, who had been a short distance away on Elm Street, immediately responded, as did Joe Mirrione, a lawyer who had been on the sidewalk and saw the accident. Mirrione (at left in photo above) comforted the woman who sat in the crosswalk, crying and visibly upset.

Mirrione said McCormack took the turn pretty quickly. When he hit the woman, “it kicked her legs out and she fell hard,” Mirrione said.

Mirrione and McCormack said that the woman said she had recently had back surgery and was on her way to Sarah Aldrich Pilates, at the southeast corner of Elm and Orange, for therapy.

“There should be a walk signal,” said McCormack. The corner of Elm and Orange has marked crosswalks, but no crosswalk signals; pedestrians simply cross when there’s a break in traffic.

“People walk without looking,” McCormack said. Every other downtown intersection has pedestrian crossing signals, he said. “This is one of the busiest intersections downtown.”

The woman was taken away in an ambulance.

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Comments

posted by: William Kurtz on December 19, 2013  2:44pm

““People walk without looking,” McCormack said.”

They do. I imagine if you investigated scientifically, you would find that people ‘walk without looking’ at about the same rate they ‘drive without looking’. The difference is only one of those activities represents a substantial danger to others and therefore carries a correspondingly greater responsibility to exercise care.

posted by: grounded on December 19, 2013  2:54pm

I’ve never understood why there’s no walk signal at that light.  When I’m with my kids I avoid it entirely.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on December 19, 2013  2:58pm

History on the perception of safety at this intersection as told by citizens along with City response. Looks like there is a plan in place if you follow the comments.

http://seeclickfix.com/issues/781801-pedestrian-signal
http://seeclickfix.com/issues/702985
http://seeclickfix.com/issues/168913-no-pedestrian-signal-at-busy-intersection-photo-needed

posted by: Atwater on December 19, 2013  3:10pm

This is one of the most dangerous downtown crossings. There should be a light, but drivers also need to remember that when the light is green pedestrians have the right of way. I have almost been hit several times while crossing on green, I’ve been honked at and sworn at by drivers who have to slow down or stop for me. This driver should be arrested.

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  3:54pm

Pedestrians have to stop blindly walking across the street whether or not there’s a crosswalk. The crosswalk doesn’t mean anything if there is a traffic signal because state law says if there’s both, the traffic signal rules.

At one way street intersection with the absence of a crosswalk signal the law unfortunately puts pedestrians in the wrong corner in a stationary purgatory if traffic is constant on both streets. The same danger exists at Crown and High, and Chapel and High but not quite to the same degree as Elm and Orange (which is a peculiar one because its a one-way/two-way intersection).

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  4:01pm

ATWATER,

A pedestrian doesn’t have the right-of-way at a signaled intersection unless they leave the curb while a crosswalk signal is green.

CT General Statutes
Sec 14-300 (b)
(b) At any intersection where special pedestrian-control signals bearing the words “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” are placed, pedestrians may cross the highway only as indicated by the signal. At any intersection where traffic is controlled by other traffic control signals or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the highway against a red or “Stop” signal and shall not cross at any place not a marked or unmarked crosswalk. A pedestrian started or starting across the highway on a “Walk” signal or on any such crosswalk on a green or “Go” signal shall have the right-of-way over all vehicles, including those making turns, until such pedestrian has reached the opposite curb or safety zone.

posted by: parejkoj on December 19, 2013  4:44pm

At least the driver stopped and took responsibility.

Considering she was hit while the driver was turning left on a green light, she did have right of way. There is no way to safely cross on three sides of this intersection, particularly considering the speed of traffic on Elm.

This really is a bad intersection, and I hope the “Sept. 2014” date given in one of the seeclickfix postings could be moved up a bit…

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  5:04pm

PAREJKOJ,

If she stepped off the curb after the driver had a green, she did not have the right of way.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 19, 2013  5:36pm

Personal responsibility.
I have almost hit dozens and dozens of people who do not bother to stop or look both ways they just walk into traffic. Yes there is a crosswalk (and especially if there is one with a sign that says DO NOT CROSS) but at this one I have seen people (maybe even you atwater just walk into MOVING TRAFFIC. You have the personal responsibility not to walk into moving traffic. IF EVERY person thought like this, traffic would be at a dead standstill. It is mostly the 20 to 30 crowd that I see doing this. I think it makes them feel cool that they think they are proving a point that they have the right of way…until you get hit….again personal responsibility.  My pet peve.

posted by: anonymous on December 19, 2013  5:51pm

1. How do we know these injuries are “minor”? A lot of times people walk away with “minor” injuries in crashes like these, then later on realize that they are crippled for life. Hopefully the woman who was hit will make a complete recovery, but perhaps the NHPD shouldn’t make that call until they have a full assessment a few months later.

2. It sounds from the article like the pedestrian had the right of way here.  She was already in the crosswalk - she did not step off the curb into a car.

3. Will NHI follow up on charges filed?

4. Luckily, Orange & Elm is a fairly narrow intersection and as a result, vehicle travel speeds tend to be relatively low.  On wider streets - like State & Elm - pedestrians have been run over and killed lately.  Unfortunately, the city is continuing to design downtown streets that look much more like State & Elm (or worse), and less like Orange & Elm.  So, we can predict with near certainty how many fatalities will result from the city’s decisions.  Because street safety is directly related to jobs, the city’s recent decisions also greatly undermine our local economy. 

Hopefully Mayor Harp’s new director for economic development will change this practice.

posted by: smackfu on December 19, 2013  5:53pm

Isn’t this the relevant passage in this case?

> A pedestrian started or starting across the highway ... on any such crosswalk on a green or “Go” signal shall have the right-of-way over all vehicles, including those making turns, until such pedestrian has reached the opposite curb or safety zone.

Orange had a green light, the pedestrian was crossing Elm in that direction, and the driver was turning.

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  6:31pm

SMACKFU,

The passage you quote pertains to a green crosswalk signal (which doesn’t exist in this location), not the green vehicle signal which grants the vehicle right of way.

This isn’t crazy. It establishes when cars and people should wait and when they should go. The absence of the crosswalk signal is slightly crazy though; this is a busy intersection and the absence of a crosswalk signal can freeze pedestrians through many cycles of traffic (aforementioned purgatory).

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  6:39pm

CHR,

Generally speaking, in the absence of a traffic cop or a vehicular or crosswalk signal, pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks (they don’t have to be marked BTW…they’re everywhere a sidewalk’s path of travel, projected across the street, hits another sidewalk). Specifically though, the statutes frown upon people entering crosswalks abruptly without giving vehicles reasonable time to stop.

CT General Statutes
Section 14-300c
(b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb, sidewalk, crosswalk or any other place of safety adjacent to or upon a roadway and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close to such pedestrian as to constitute an immediate hazard to such pedestrian. No pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree which renders himself a hazard shall walk or stand upon any part of a roadway.

posted by: swatty on December 19, 2013  7:16pm

Then we have the misguided folks who spray painted “DON’T READ THIS LOOK UP! which is just stupid as people read it. Those signs will get someone squashed yet - we’ll see.

Bottom line - DEFENSE for both drivers and walkers is the best offense.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on December 19, 2013  8:24pm

Yes - very busy and dangerous corner.  Leaving work at 5 or shortly after, I always found it hard (difficult) to get across.  At times, drivers even block the cross walks.  I would agree that a walk light is most-definitely needed at that corner.

posted by: Career High School Parent on December 19, 2013  9:40pm

I agree. Personal responsibility. I always look both ways when crossing and always give the oncoming vehicle the right of way. No matter if I’m right or not. Guess what? An automobile that weighs a ton or more is always right as far as I’m concerned.

Drivers should also be weary of pedestrians who are looking to get hit so they can file a lawsuit. Carter Mario law firm is filled with these types of clients!

posted by: HewNaven on December 19, 2013  9:48pm

robn,

Where does it say that the pedestrian left the curb suddenly or ran into the path of the truck? In fact, it states that she was already crossing, and at least one witness admitted the driver “took the turn pretty quickly.” And, the driver himself admitted he was looking the other way! Its disingenuous and also pretty mean to blame a helpless victim of a crime. How about a suggestion for improving this intersection instead of kicking someone who just got knocked down.

posted by: robn on December 20, 2013  8:18am

HN,

Chill. I’m blaming neither the pedestrian nor the driver. I’m quoting the law which many people on this thread misunderstand.
Who’s at Fault really depends upon whether the pedestrian left the curb when the light was red or green.

posted by: robn on December 20, 2013  9:58am

This is why I’ve been a vociferous critic of the one way street system. Take, for example, Chapel and College. Pedestrians walking on the Taft side of Chapel toward the top of the green often cross College against the Chapel street signal. The reason is perception. They’re staring up Chapel into an empty street with no cars facing them, the queued College traffic is way over to their left, almost out of peripheral vision, so there’s no apparent danger. Its ridiculous.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 20, 2013  10:33am

Here Breezy has it right. (about mid way threw the video) http://goo.gl/gKrUHY

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 20, 2013  12:25pm

It was my understanding that if a pedestrian signal did not exist, the pedestrian has the right-of-way in the intersection. If a pedestrian signal does exist, pedestrians must abide by it.

robn,
When is the pedestrian allowed to legally cross at the intersection of Elm and Orange? If the pedestrian has to wait for a red light to cross legally, then they will never be able to cross that intersection because once one light turns red, the other one turns green. If she waited until Orange Street got the red to cross, she’d be walking into oncoming traffic from Elm, which would have just gotten the green.

posted by: robn on December 20, 2013  1:31pm

JH,

Ding! Give that man a cigar. This is the pedestrian purgatory I’ve mentioned over and over. In a one-way intersection there is one corner in which a literal reading of the law locks a pedestrian on the corner forever unless there is a minute pause between the traffic greens. And in essence, the lack of a crosswalk signal (in either a one way or a two way system) means that the law always assigns right of way to vehicles, no matter what corner a pedestrian departs from.

posted by: Bradley on December 21, 2013  7:48pm

Anonymous, the article implies that no one was arrested, and I am willing to bet that no charges will be filed. Poor traffic design, which definitely was the case in this instance, does not imply criminal liability. It is entirely possible that both the driver and pedestrian were at fault.

I agree with Robn that the one-way streets downtown jeopardize pedestrians as well as inconvenience drivers.

posted by: nhstudent4ever on December 22, 2013  2:40am

robn, is there such a thing as a green walk signal? I read and interpreted the statute to mean the pedestrian could walk when a walk sign said “walk” or when the light they were facing (as though they were a car) was green. I didn’t see this defined in the “definitions” section, but perhaps I missed something?

posted by: Brian Tang on December 23, 2013  1:36pm

Almost four and a half years ago, back when Mike Piscitelli was director of Transportation, Traffic & Parking, he told me that he thought that this and the other intersections in downtown without crosswalk signals (Temple/Grove, Chapel/Park, Crown/York) should be first in line to get the new signal upgrades. I disagreed. I said I liked the intersections without crosswalk signals because they are the only signalized intersections in New Haven (apart from Whitney/Trumbull) that are not set up to take away the pedestrian’s legal right of way over turning vehicles. You see, in most every other community in America, walk signals say walk at the same time as parallel traffic has the green light (aka they are “concurrent”). In these situations, the pedestrian has the clear right of way over turning vehicles. Of course, they do not always yield. In situations where there is a high probabily of conflict between turning vehicles and pedestrians, today’s best practices recommend something called “leading pedestrian signals,” which are the new-and-improved version of what New Haven does. In between every change in the green light, there is a several-second period where all drivers see red light and all Peds see walk. Then the light turns green and the parallel walk signal Stays On Walk.  This helps pedestrians to assert their right of way over turning vehicles. Meanwhile New Haven’s old-fashioned “exclusive ped phase” signal programming allows drivers to get into the habit of turning without looking.

This is a problem for cyclists. Why? Because of the dreaded “right-hook” collision, the Achilles Heel of bike lanes. As far as the law is concerned, a bike lane is considered a lane of travel that is reserved for bicycles (much like a bus lane or an HOV lane). Thus cars turning right, across a bike lane are actually crossing a lane of traffic, and thus must yield to vehicles (bicycles) in that lane (much like how you must yield to oncoming traffic before crossing their lane.)

posted by: robn on December 23, 2013  3:31pm

BT,

Very interesting. I guess because I’m used to being here I never really keyed into NYC’s concurrent walk/vehicle signals as maybe being the norm rather than the exception. Do you have nay idea about how many states allow concurrent signals? Is CT the only one that doesn’t?

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