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Police vehicle strikes and kills pedestrian in South Louisville

Posted by Kenneth Doane | Nov 19, 2015

A woman pedestrian was killed just across the border from Jeffersonville in Louisville when she was struck by a police wrecker as she crossed a street. It is troubling that it was a police vehicle that struck and killed the woman, as one would expect all police personnel would exercise the greatest care when driving, being witness to the carnage that too often occurs in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident.

It is unclear if the police wrecker driver was distracted. It is notable that the news report includes comments from the police that she "was in dark clothing and was not in a crosswalk." Of course, neither of those two offenses carries a death sentence. The "crime" of jaywalking was invented by the auto industry to protect, at the time, their growing industry.

In the early part of last century, pedestrians could cross any part of a street at any time. But as the presence of motor cars grew, so did the death toll. The town of Cincinnati even tried to pass a law that would have place speed limiters on all vehicles in the city, to prevent them from traveling too fast and endangering pedestrians.

This proposed legislation struck fear into the auto industry and they vigorously campaigned against it. They then worked to see that a "model" traffic ordinance was drafted, based on the auto-friendly laws in Los Angeles, gained widespread acceptance.

This law prohibited the crossing of streets at any location other than an intersection and only at right angles. Compliance was still lax, so the auto industry started ghostwriting accident reports for newspapers, always placing the blame for the accident on the pedestrian.

They also employed shaming of pedestrians, by ridiculing those who failed to follow the car-friendly laws.

Looks like some things never change.

Source:, "The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of 'jaywalking'," Joseph Stromberg, November 4, 2015

About the Author

Kenneth Doane

Ken is an experienced personal injury attorney and practices in southern Indiana and the metro Louisville area. Ken and his team handle every aspect of his clients' cases from pre-suit settlement negotiations through jury trial and appeal, if necessary. He has practiced for over 22 years and has ...

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