A man attempting to make a left-hand turn ahead of oncoming traffic killed an 83-year-old German immigrant pushing a grocery cart with fruits and vegetables across E. Lincoln Ave., within a block of her senior living apartment, according to witness accounts of the crash at a busy Bay View intersection.
The fatal crash about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday continues a dangerous trend of increasing deaths among people walking on Wisconsin streets, and motorist failures that contribute to the toll.
Christa Pittman, who lived in the Lincoln Court apartments, became the 24th person killed while walking in the state this year and another casualty of a motorist who appeared to ignore the right-of-way.
Witnesses told police Pittman was walking southbound, in the crosswalk, with the right-of-way, when the driver attempted to make a left-hand turn onto E. Lincoln Ave., going westbound. Those who saw the crash reported it seemed the driver was trying to beat oncoming traffic to make the turn, at roughly 25 miles per hour.
The impact threw Pittman 10 to 15 feet. She died within an hour of the collision.
Pittman’s death tragically highlights the importance of driving slowly and cautiously, especially in urban areas.
Researchers have found that someone hit by a car going 20 mph has a 90 percent chance of surviving. Increase the speed to 30 mph, and the survival odds drop to 50 percent. A car or truck going 40 mph will kill someone in nine out of 10 crashes.
The number of people killed while walking in Wisconsin dropped to a low of 35 in 2009, and has been rising since. In 2015, 54 people walking to stores, homes and for exercise were hit and killed by vehicles in the state.
In a three-year span covering 2011, 2012 and 2013, more than 40 people were killed in crosswalks by people who failed to yield, according to an analysis of crash reports by Robert Schneider, an assistant professor and traffic safety researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Driver errors accounted for 65% of deaths in crosswalks at intersections over that span, Schneider found, in his analysis of more than 8,000 crash reports. He conducted his research for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety, and the Wisconsin Bike Fed Share and Be Aware Program.