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Why Public Transportation in Phoenix Affects Your Safety – Even If You Don’t Use It

By all definitions, Phoenix is a large city with the benefits and problems that are associated with large towns. The Phoenix metropolitan area, often called Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, was estimated to be home to about 4.5 million residents in 2015, making it the 12th largest metropolitan area in the nation by population, according to the United States Census Department. With all those people, it should not be surprising that transportation and travel is an ongoing issue in the Valley with state and local officials constantly looking for ways to eliminate some of the congestion.

City officials have implemented massive improvements in public transportation in recent decades and now are working on Phoenix Transportation 2050, a comprehensive plan to advance the public transportation scene in Phoenix during a 35 year period ending in 2050. As part of that project, 42 miles of new light rail routes are planned with new light rail stations, an additional 1,000 miles of bicycle lanes will be constructed, the number, availability, and frequency of city buses will increase, and 135 miles of sidewalks will be added to our community. Importantly, there are also plans to add 75 new miles of RAPID routes and advanced technology like Wi-Fi on buses and trains.

You may be one of the thousands who have benefited from the introduction of the light rail, the upgrades to city buses as of late, or even the easier access afforded to public transit users. If that is the case, there is little doubt that you understand the value and impact of these alternative means of travel. But if you do not use public transportation, you may be less inclined to understand fully the impact that public transit has on your life.

The introduction of different types of vehicles and means of travel in the same area as cars, SUVs, and trucks in Phoenix means that everyone must be alert constantly to ensure their actions are appropriate and safe. Failing to pay close attention may lead a motorist to be involved in a car accident, train accident, or other collision that affects not only that driver but everyone on board the public transportation vehicle. Fortunately, a number of these accidents that occur in Arizona do not produce injuries; unfortunately, hundreds of crashes cause harm every year and often the damages last long beyond the date of the collision itself. Victims may need to seek medical help to recover from their losses or they may lose their lives due to injuries, creating a harm that can never be undone or righted.

The rules related to public transportation vehicles can vary from those of private cars which in turn can make it more difficult to navigate Phoenix roads safely. For example, a light rail train may have the right-of-way at a street crossing where vehicles are regularly present. If the train has the right-of-way, it is the legal duty of drivers to recognize it and to respect that right, allowing the train to proceed before attempting to cross the tracks. Similarly, city buses may be able to stop in areas that other cars cannot to enable boarding and disembarking on those buses. Drivers of cars who are near a city bus should be prepared for frequent stops as well as an increased presence of pedestrians near bus stops and should make sure a private car is kept under control so that a collision does not happen.

Public transportation is here to stay, whether you plan to use it today, tomorrow, or never. If you drive in Phoenix, make sure you understand the impact that public transit poses on your life and conduct yourself in a reasonable manner while driving to help keep our roads as safe as possible.

Prior Blog Entry:

Cyclists Preparing for Tempe’s Tour de Fat, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 16, 2016.


Transportation 2050, City of Phoenix.

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