Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users in Philadelphia and that fact has been tragically on display throughout the day as we learn more of the horrific details of two separate hit-and-run crashes on Monday night.

In the first incidence, a boy was struck at 57th and Litchfield Streets around 6:30pm in Southwest Philadelphia. The driver fled the scene. The 4-year-old boy was killed. The crash was caught on camera. The city is currently offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver.

Check out the 6ABC report below:

Unbelievably, this was not the only such crash last night. The city is offering a $10,000 $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a separate driver, who crashed into a 19-year-old woman and her 2-year-old child near the corner of Mascher Street and Lehigh Ave. in West Kensington. Both victims of the crash were rushed to Episcopal Hospital listed in critical condition. [Update 4/16: Tragically, we just learned that the 2-year-old boy involved in this crash has died.]

Our sympathies go out to those affected by these terrible crashes. As advocates for better, safer streets for all road users, we’ve been pushing for safer intersections for pedestrians in our Better Mobility report, and traffic-calming measures. Those measures include road diets, pedestrian refuge islands, longer pedestrian countdown phases, more pedestrian signals, and better management of on-street parking.

The Better Mobility Working Group also called upon the State Legislature to install safety cameras on roads where speeding is the primary cause of crashes. And speed is too often the cause of traffic deaths in Philadelphia. Witnesses to the crash in Southwest Philly told the Inquirer (who unfortunately referred to the crash as an “accident”) that traffic is too fast on 57th Street.

Porter said traffic on 57th can get bad in the afternoon and evening. “It’s like I-95 on this street,” she complained.

Cespedes agreed. “You see a lot of crazy people driving on the street these days,” she said.

A Vision Zero policy for zero deaths and serious injuries in traffic assumes human beings are prone to making mistakes when operating heavy machinery. We need to make sure that when those mistakes are made, it doesn’t involve the loss of life.

Forcing motor vehicles to slow down via speed cameras and better enforcement could go a long way to making streets safer. As a result, we could see fewer crashes like that in Southwest Philly which result in the pedestrian’s death.

Statistics show what should be obvious to anyone: When a vehicle is traveling slower, the pedestrian struck by that vehicle is less likely to be killed. In the below chart, that information is parsed out by miles per hour.


This chart, created by Urban Indy, uses information from the “Relationship between Speed and Risk of Fatal Injury: Pedestrians and Car Occupants” published in September 2010 by the UK Department of Transport. Share it.

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