Who’s Afraid of the “Petextrian”?

So much to unpack in this fascinating and enlightening article.  Worth an in-depth read!

The word “petextrian” is a preemptive attempt by automakers and their allies to invent a menace that’s a worthy successor to the jaywalker of a century ago.

Traffic crashes are the thirteenth most common cause of death in the United States, and the single leading cause of death for people aged eight to twenty-four. As with health care and gun violence, our record on road safety is now among the worst in the developed world, and it’s getting worse

“Everything we know from countries that have successfully reduced road deaths indicates that the most effective approach is to systematically redesign streets to prioritize safety over speed. The growing moral panic over being wired while walking takes none of this into account. Instead, Americans are increasingly being told that the solution is an arbitrary, punitive approach that has little evidence to back it up.

“Distracted pedestrian” laws aren’t really about the evidence, though. They are about maintaining the privileges of car culture as that culture is about to confront an enormous shift in the balance of civic and technological power—one that threatens to permanently upend the relationship between drivers and pedestrians.”

Read more…


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