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Car Culture

“Freak Accident” That Seems to be Happening Regularly

12:48 PM EST on November 14, 2006

Has it come to this, a car can be driven down a sidewalk for an entire crowded city block, injuring four pedestrians, one of them critically, without the driver getting a ticket or even a photo appearing in the next day's newspapers?

Just before 6 p.m. yesterday, a driver reportedly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, sending her Honda Civic onto the sidewalk on Broadway near East 12th Street. Four pedestrians were struck. One, a man in his 50s, was thrown into the glass window of the Bon Vivant Deli, shattering it. The Times and the Post had different versions of the crash sequence, but both reported Airborne Man in critical condition. No charges were filed, the Times said. No photo in the papers, either. Gothamist has the news roundup.

Last Wednesday we had SUV Mounts Flatbush Ave. Sidewalk, Runs Over Family and Kills 5-Year-Old Kid. Friday brought Driver Invades Herald Square Store, Injures Five. And wasn't there an earlier Herald Square Store Car-Invasion, two weeks ago? There are so many cars running up on to the sidewalk it's tough to keep track of which driver was fleeing an earlier crash, which one had a seizure, who forgot to take their medication (or took too much).

Back when City DOT was more free with data, in the 1990s, it listed a dozen or so pedestrians killed on sidewalks each year, out of 250 ped deaths overall. Total pedestrian fatalities are reportedly down since, but it's not clear if the sidewalk tally has dropped as well. Maybe not, from the look of things.

There oughta be a law, actually, there are a few: Vehicles Prohibited from Sidewalks (NY State Vehicle & Traffic Law §1202), (Reckless Driving §1212), Drivers Must Exercise Due Care (§1146).

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