"Sorry about your accident. my mommy fells really bad for you. so Soory!" An apology written to Meri Nalbandyan from the daughter of the woman who had killed her. The mother had dropped her own (letter-writer) daughter off at school moments earlier. In a moment of inattentiveness, she drove her SUV at 10 mph over 11 year old Meri at the mid-block crosswalk pictured below.
As I wrote in Walking and Biking, "Stop the madness". Traffic accident statistics prove time and time again, children who are hit by cars near schools are usually hit by cars driven by people picking up or dropping kids off at school. If more kids walk or bike to school, there would be fewer cars in a dangerous scrum around schools every morning.
The comments accompanying the LA Times story are dispiritingly illogical. One blamed cell phones even the story explicitly states that the driver was not using a cell phone at the time. Another comment said that kids were being murdered and kidnapped so much more these days, there was no alternative to chauffeuring them to school. No one dares to suggest that we get the cars out of the school zone.
Going off on a tangent...
I also mentioned in Walking and Biking that today's automobile fleet has much larger blind spots. The driver that killed Meri plowed a SUV straight into her, mid-block. The high, broad and flat hoods of SUVs create a larger blind spot in front of the driver than a car closer to the ground. (Even though a 11 year old would likely be taller than the hood, less would be visible, especially to a distracted driver.)
Minivans have smaller blind spots in front of them because their hoods are much shorter and slope down so steeply. Minivans are wedges on wheels, which is why they enjoy higher gas mileage than the blockier SUVs. In addition, the engines of minivans ride much lower than those of SUVs, giving minivans a lower center of gravity, decreasing their likelihood to roll over (relative to SUVs).
The companies that foisted SUVs upon the public as the family vehicle of choice are on life support. Explain to me why we shouldn't pull the plug.
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