Woman struck and killed by driver in Squirrel Hill

Intersection in Squirrel Hill needs an Urgent Update

A woman was struck and killed by a driver in Squirrel Hill this past Wednesday evening. Later, she was identified as the aunt of Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor. Our hearts go out to him and his family.

How many similar crashes have occurred nearby?

There have been two nearby crash reports but nothing reported at that particular intersection. None have been fatal except this crash.

How did the built environment influence a crash?

It’s important to note that this intersection has very faded crosswalks and they are not the current standard of the highly visible piano key style (see photo below for example). Also at this intersection, there’s a “no turn on red” between 7am-10pm. If the crash occurred between those hours while turning that would have been illegal.

Since the article doesn’t say where or when she was struck it’s hard to assume exactly what happened but we have a few tips for everyone to make it safer.

What can be done to prevent crashes like this?

City Planners, Engineers, and Elected Officials:
  • Increase visibility: Update the crosswalk to have the piano key style thermoplastic paint which makes for higher visibility of crosswalks;
  • Give people on foot a head start: Add a pedestrian advance signal and give us plenty of time to cross;
  • Give us refuge: On longer crossings, add a pedestrian refuge island;
  • Lower speed limits: Rates of survival when hit by a vehicle go down substantially at lower rates of speed (This article has an interactive map that shows your chance of being killed at the various speeds of driving and at a 3 different ages). 20 (mph) is plenty in our neighborhoods.
  • Light us up: Choose LED lights that better illuminate the streets especially at intersections;
  • Calm traffic: Neck downs at intersections are a great addition to make pedestrians more visible while giving them a shorter crossing distance. In residential areas add speed humps to slow down drivers.
  • Be extra cautious: Decreased visibility and earlier sunsets calls for more vigilant driving. Don’t drive distracted, be alert, and scan your surroundings. Always keep your eyes peeled for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Slow down and drive with care: Increase the recommended safe distances to allow three or more seconds between vehicles and bicyclists. The more space you have, the more time you have to react. Slow down around bicyclists and pedestrians and always give them extra space when passing. Always yield to pedestrians trying to cross the street. This is much easier to do when people drive at a slower speed.
  • Beware of glare: Clean your windshield outside and inside. A cracked or dirty windshield can magnify glare. This also goes for your glasses and sunglasses. Be sure to have your sunglasses ready for sunrise and sunset or wet, snowy, or icy conditions.
  • Be patient: Know that people who are walking or biking bundled up may not be able to hear or see you as well, and take more time to react or maneuver especially with wet or icy conditions.
  • Be aware: Don’t assume that a driver or bicyclist for that matter sees you. When crossing the street, be extra aware of drivers who are driving towards the sunrise or sunset, as they will have a harder time seeing you.
  • Dress to be seen: While much more responsibility falls on the driver to drive at a safe speed and for the conditions, pedestrians can help drivers by wearing lighter colors or even some adding some reflective elements to our clothing. Prefer dark clothing? Balance it with a piece that is reflective or bright. We want to be very clear, if anyone is hit by a driver and the victim wasn’t wearing reflective material or brighter colors, in no way is it their fault. We are only saying that clothing choices can help you be noticed, especially at intersections that are not well lighted, striped, or traffic-calmed.
  • Cross consciousness: Always cross at an intersection. Lighting is often better there, and at major intersections there are typically pedestrian signals to follow and crosswalks to help you be seen (if they are maintained).

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