On Sunday, January 22nd, 43 year-old Savoun So who was walking across Oregon Avenue at 5:40pm, and 31 year old Edgardo Rosario was on his bicycle on N. Howard St. at 8:33pm were killed by two separate drivers who struck them, leaving them to die on Philadelphia’s streets.
Ms. So and Mr. Rosario are the second and third persons to die in 2023 because of individuals who inhumanly left them to die after colliding their multi-ton vehicle with them. They are also the fourth and fifth persons to be killed in traffic crashes in 2023 to date. So far in 2023, hit-and-run drivers accounted for 3 out of 5 (60%) of those killed by motorists in traffic crashes.
Hit and runs are part of Philadelphia’s largely unrecognized epidemic caused by the pandemic: traffic fatalities. 2022 was the third year in a row that hit-and-runs were twice has high than the number in 2019 and accounted for 28% of all fatalities as we reported in early January.
While Captain Overwise, the head of the Philadelphia’s Police Crash Investigation Division, is working to find these perpetrators, there are technology tools available to curb these horrible crashes if Pennsylvania’s General Assembly takes action. Long term, roads need to be redesigned to prevent motorists from recklessly speeding and give bicyclists and pedestrians more protection while using roads.
First, create a system that enables police enforcement authorities to issue alerts when hit-and-runs occur so that auto body shops can look for automobiles that have been in a collision that might fit the description of the fleeing vehicle. In 2020 (SB54 & SB55) and 2022 (SB24), were introduced by Senator Anthony Williams. These bills are known as the “Jay Alert“ system that would require such alerts. This legislation is named for Jayanna Powell who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2016 while crossing the street on her way home from school at 63rd and Landsdowne. Those bills never made it out of committee. Senator Williams just released yesterday a new “sponsorship memo” on the legislation and is poised to introduce it again this session.
Secondly, automated speed enforcement would help reduce speeds on dangerous corridors and reduce the incidence of collisions to begin with. Automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Boulevard has successfully reduced crashes and fatalities, and needs to be reauthorized (and expanded to other dangerous roadways) in 2023 before it expires, as recommended by the State’s Transportation Advisory Committee.
The Bicycle Coalition is working with legislators, Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia and Safe Roads PAC to advocate for introduction and passage of these two pieces of legislation in 2023.
To further the conversation about ending fatal traffic crashes, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will host the 2023 Vision Zero Conference “Creating an Equitable Future with Zero Traffic Fatalities” on March 31 at Temple University. More information about the event and how to attend can be found on our website.