Dear Seattle drivers,
I want to have an honest talk with you.
It was recently reported in the Seattle Times Traffic Lab that 101 people were seriously injured or killed in 98 collisions on Seattle streets in the first 6 months of the year. That is the highest number in the first six months of a year since 2010.
35 pedestrians and 14 bicyclists were seriously injured. (Oh, and before you ask – most pedestrians and bicyclists are killed or injured while they are obeying the law.) Collisions between motor vehicles injured another 38 people.
Many believe that the use of smart phones is, in part, to blame. Not only from the prospective of those behind the wheels of a motor vehicle, but, also by those on foot and on a bike. But the fact is, many U.S. cities – including Seattle – have been designing around automobiles for many decades. Street design that favors individual cars inherently endangers all other road users.
Traffic professionals claim that two of the most important tools for reducing serious crashes are:
- Lowering speed limits.
- Installing leading pedestrian intervals – signals that give people walking a head start to cross intersections.
Our vehicles cause the most damage.
No matter the cause of these crashes, they all have something in common. Seattle drivers, it is our cars and trucks that are doing the most damage and harm. Your vehicle is a tool that moves you around in the world, but, it can also be a weapon.
I have represented crash victims and their families for over 30 years, but this increase in the number of serious-injury and fatal collisions has me greatly concerned. Moreover, typically more crashes tend to occur in the second half of the year.
Seattle, I’m scared for us.
I don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed on the streets of our city. And, I don’t want you to hurt or kill someone.
Naturally, we often focus on the injured person – but crashes have a big effect on the driver, too. I have spent countless hours questioning at-fault drivers in depositions; most of them would tell you that they would do anything to go back and change their actions.
The good news, Seattleites, is that we can do better.
Recommendations for Seattle drivers
After reading Traffic Lab, I sat down and made a list of my recommendations for reducing crashes caused by Seattle drivers. Here is what we can do, and should do, every day.
- Never look, use or handle your cellphone when behind the steering wheel of your vehicle.
- Stay at or below the speed limit (since speeding doesn’t even save time).
- Make sure that you consider people and vehicles from all directions.
- Keep a proper following distance.
- Remind yourself that you do not own the street: you are sharing the roadways with people on foot and on bike, as well as, other drivers.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Know your route.
- Remember, you have one task when behind the wheel of a vehicle: get from point A to point B, safely.
As the driver, these things are all 100% within your control.
I believe we can – and must – do better, Seattle.
– Attorney Kevin Coluccio
P.S. We don’t use the term “accident” at Coluccio Law: it is our position that nearly all collisions are avoidable, and could be prevented with safe driving.
Try it. Use “crash” or “collision” instead of accident.