As a pedestrian, there are always risks when crossing the road. One never knows when a driver will look down to check an incoming text message, when the operator of a vehicle might have had too much to drink, or when some other fluke may occur that leads a vehicle into his path. This can lead to crosswalk dangers.
In order to alleviate some of this risk, most cities – and even a majority of the smaller towns in this nation – have implemented crosswalk systems which are meant to tell pedestrians when it is safe to cross the road. They work in conjunction with the traffic lights meant to control the traffic patterns. Nearly everyone has seen crosswalk lights in action, but many St. Petersburg residents are complaining because they have also seen what happens when one fails to work.
Perhaps it was the news of a recent Saint Petersburg death that caused the controversy about one of the crosswalks in the city, or perhaps it just caused the voices to grow louder, but one thing is certain, people want the city to address a very serious safety concern. Worse yet, this intersection is within easy walking distance of the Great Explorations Museum, a popular children’s attraction. The thought of the same fate awaiting a child is enough to cause a large number of voices to become shouts.
Most people in this area have heard the news of Julian Bennett Vanderbleek, who was 51 years old when she was hit and killed in a crosswalk. She had been out to dinner with her husband on that particular evening, and the two were walking back to their vehicle when they encountered the faulty crosswalk light. At this particular crossing point, the button allows the pedestrian to stop the flow of traffic long enough to make the trek across the road safely. Unfortunately, the button had been failing regularly. Vanderbleek was crossing with her husband when a car failed to stop, hitting and killing her.
Others in the area have stated that the same thing happened to them, and they are afraid to even use the button because there is no telling when a car will come blowing through, due to the malfunctioning lights.
The death of Vanderbleek was enough to make state officials pay attention. The Florida Department of Transportation is now involved and awaiting more information before making a decision about what will happen with the crosswalk. In the meantime, Saint Petersburg residents should be aware of the danger. We don’t want to see another loss as a result of a malfunctioning light system.
While it is not yet clear if the family of Vanderbleek will file a lawsuit, they likely have a case. If it can be proven that the light failed to do as it was meant to at the time when the woman pushed the button, the family can seek compensation for their losses. While it certainly can’t ease the ache in their hearts, it may be enough to cover the funeral expenses and lost wages that resulted from the accident.