New Technology is Exciting- When It’s Safe

The first pedestrian fatality caused by automated vehicles earlier this week in Tempe, Arizona, is a stark reminder that our work to create communities where walking is a safe transportation option is far from finished.

As we all wait to hear more about what happened, why, and, most importantly, how to prevent future crashes, America Walks believes that this crash underscores the urgency surrounding discussions that we and our active transportation partners are having regarding the role automated vehicles will play in our communities. The crash also underscores the ongoing need to address conditions that prioritize the movement of cars over the safety of people.

Tempe isn’t alone in its landscape that makes it far too perilous to get around outside of an automobile. Wide streets, too-high speed limits, limited crosswalks and often unenforced pedestrians rights of way are among the conditions virtually omnipresent in cities across our country. Equally concerning is a culture that tends to blame pedestrians involved in traffic incidents for daring to attempt to make use of the street.

We at America Walks are cautiously optimistic that new technologies can be deployed to help address the preventable problem of increasing pedestrian deaths. But as these new technologies are tested and deployed, the impact on pedestrians need to be carefully assessed and people prioritized over efficient traffic flow. New technologies cannot be a distraction from the existing issues that create unsafe environments.