Hit-and-runs on the rise

Since June, three fatalities and one serious injury have occurred in Santa Monica as a result of automobiles versus pedestrian and bicycle collisions. On June 23, Roger Slifer, a 57-year-old comic book writer and producer, was seriously injured while crossing 5th Street at Colorado Boulevard. A press release from the Santa Monica Police Department describes a white, four-door, 1990s sedan with tinted windows — the police are still looking for information.

On July 10, Erin Galligan, a resident of Venice, was killed by a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado while riding her bicycle on the Pacific Coast Highway. The case is still open.

Detective Chris Dawson of the SMPD said, “It’s frustrating because the drivers did a cowardly thing when they fled, and we can’t teach people morality.”

“It’s something they should have learned as children.”

Pedestrian accidents in Santa Monica total about 110 per year, according to the SMDP.

Some “controlled” crosswalks have devices like traffic lights, signage, buttons and crossing guards.

“Uncontrolled” crosswalks have buttons at intersections that cause yellow lights to flash warning motorists of pedestrians, if anything.

“The motorists might not stop if they see the yellow light flashing,” Dawson said.

“You must make sure you see the front of the vehicle dipping when they engage the brake to be sure they’re going to stop.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009, 4,092 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 59,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every nine minutes.

A study by the federal government in the 1990s revealed pedestrians assume that the driver sees them.

“Be aware of your surroundings and don’t assume the car is going to stop,” Dawson said.

According to the American League of bicyclists, an average of 700 people are killed each year while riding their bikes and around 45,000 bicyclists are injured each year in collisions with motor vehicles.

Despite the increase in incidents, Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, Pete Morris, said that Santa Monica is officially recognized as a bicycle friendly community.

Santa Monica has a focused effort to improve conditions for bicyclists over the last five years. Officials have identified several medium streets that will remove a lane of traffic in each direction to make bike lanes wider in order to keep them further from the curb.

“Motorists on the left can see bicyclists more readily, and parked cars on the right can avoid hitting a bicyclist when they’re opening their doors,” Morris said. Arrows painted on the ground tell motorists they are sharing the lane with the bicyclists and assist in placement.

Areas have also been re-striped to facilitate a biking lane, according to Morris. The marked space makes the drivers more cautious and aware of the bikers.

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