Editors note: I suspect some readers will have a deja vu reaction to this story because a) drunken hit and runs are disgustingly commonplace and b) I am a supporter of Louis V. Lombardo and have used his material before. Once again, I urge you to visit his site,www.CareForCrashVictims.com . This is his email, verbatim.
Today’s Washington Post carried on its Front Page a tragic story which should stimulate some advances in safety. See Hit-and-run victim worked in Sidwell Friends cafeteria for 44 years
It is a sad story about a “kind” woman hit and killed reportedly by a drunk and speeding motorist. Ruby Whitfield, 71, was a long time cafeteria worker at Sidwell Friends and friend of Chelsea Clinton while she was a student there in the 1990s. Imagine if Chelsea and her fellow students created a fund in memory of Ruby Whitfield dedicated to preventing future crash victim tragedies.
As someone who worked at NHTSA from 1978 – 2007, I can say that the Clinton years were better than the Reagan and Bush years, but disappointing compared with the Carter years. Reagan appointed a coal industry lobbyist, Raymond A. Peck, to head NHTSA in 1981. The airbag rule was rescinded and NHTSA staff was cut by 300 safety workers (about a 33% cut). Imagine if Clinton had restored the staffing level of NHTSA in his 8 years as President. Imagine if 300 workers had developed technologies and standards to prevent impaired driving, speeding, and pedestrian protection. Would you believe that to this day, NHTSA is still at the reduced safety worker staffing levels created by Reagan in 1982?
Would you believe that more than 1 million Americans have died of crash injuries since Reagan became President? Would you believe that in President Obama’s first term more Americans died of crash injuries than died in the Afghanistan, Iraq, and Viet Nam wars combined? We can and must do better. The American people deserve better than this!
Editors note: In case the hyperlink in the above does not work, here are some key details from the Washington Post story:
“D.C. police said a silver Mercury Mountaineer speeding about 15 mph over the limit and driven by a suspected drunk driver plowed into Whitfield and kept going, dragging her 86 feet down the pavement. …. D.C. police later arrested the 32 year old driver about 10 blocks from the crash site. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter, and court documents say he failed sobriety tests, including jumbling the alphabet on his first two tries. The documents say his blood alcohol content was measured at 0.11 percent; the legal limit in the District is .08….. Police said in the court charging documents that the driver stopped at a red light a block away. Another motorist confronted him, the documents say, but the man drove off. Police said he was wearing ear buds and talking on a cellphone. … Police said in the report that there was no evidence that the vehicle braked, and they estimated he was going faster than 40 mph. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 25 mph.”
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