Whether its students, shoppers, or professionals rushing back to the office after lunch, the downtown area of Charleston is rampant with jaywalkers, an issue put in print by Post and Courier columnist Ken Burger last week. But without formal laws on the city books to penalize those objecting designated crosswalks there is little in the way of enforcing safe street crossing, limiting the city’s ability to try and prevent pedestrian accidents. While there are some state codes against prohibiting unlawful street crossing, officers have a whole lot more on their minds than a shopper hopping from store to store without using a crosswalk.
Unfortunately, and Charleston auto accident attorneys have noticed, there have been a number of jaywalkers paying an extreme price for not utilizing crosswalks, in the form of serious injuries and deaths. Over the past five years 18 pedestrians have been killed while crossing Holy City streets, there were five deaths in the last year alone, and in none of the incidents were the victims using a crosswalk.
However, most of these incidents did not occur on the shop and restaurant-lined streets downtown, they happened while the victims were crossing much busier roadways like Sam Rittenburg, U.S. Highway 17, and St. Andrews Boulevard. All of which have marked crosswalks, although not as frequent as the intersections on the peninsula, they are nonetheless ignored by their crossers, risking life and limb to make it to the other side.
In an effort to curb preventable pedestrian accidents, the City of Charleston has started a program that blocks vehicular traffic from the busy shopping district on King St. the second Sunday of each month. The program effectively turns the area into an open-air mall where shoppers can porous the street safely. Unfortunately, a similar program does not befit major roadways in Charleston and large strides need to be made in order to protect pedestrians, or attempt to make them aware of the danger jaywalking poses.