Big rig hits pedestrians, spurring calls for regulations

After a big rig hit and dragged two pedestrians down Sixth Street in the South of Market neighborhood Friday, one pedestrian advocacy group is calling for limits to the trucks’ access to city streets.

The victims, described by police as a well-dressed married couple in their 40s or 50s, were crossing Sixth Street in the eastbound direction on the south side of Bryant Street when a semi truck heading the same direction on Bryant Street turned right and hit them in the crosswalk. Police said the victims were trapped under the truck’s cab and dragged some distance down Sixth Street.

The couple was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police reported, but the nature of those injuries is unclear. The couple and the truck both had the green light.

Walk San Francisco board member Katy Liddell said Friday that, because of the high volume of pedestrians on downtown streets during the week, big rigs should be prohibited from some high-traffic areas.

“We need to look at ways we can either keep them off the streets or restrict their usage as far as right-hand turns and things like that,” she said.

The City appears to be seeing an increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries this year from last. Through August, the latest month for which statistics are available, San Francisco Police Department Capt. Greg Corrales, of the traffic division, said there were 15 pedestrians killed by cars this year. At this same time in 2005, 10 had been killed. The City ended 2005 with 14 pedestrian traffic deaths.

Through August of this year, San Francisco has recorded 494 pedestrian traffic injuries. At the same time in 2005, 448 such injuries were on the books. Last year ended with a total of 755 reported pedestrian injuries. Those statistics do not indicate how many injuries involved big rig trucks versus other kinds of vehicles.

“The thing that people have to realize is that these big, heavy vehicles, they can’t stop like a car does. They need space to stop. They think it’s just like a Volkswagon and it’ll stop in 30 feet,” Corrales said. Semi trucks also have wide-turning radii, which force them to make turns from the center of the road.

“I’m a big advocate for no right turns on reds, particularly for a big rig. Many times the drivers of the big rigs are up so high they can’t see the pedestrians,” Liddell said.

amartin@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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