Aaron Kangas died when a man driving a truck ran into him on U.S. Highway 101 south of Eureka. Your article about his tragic death (“ ‘Aaron was a really happy person’,” Times-Standard, Jan. 29, Page A1) showed how the suffering of his family and friends has been heightened by apparently false rumors that Mr. Kangas intentionally stepped in front of the truck. Sadly, this story is typical of attempts by many in the public, in law enforcement, and in the media to blame the victim in cases of pedestrian (or bicyclist) injury and death.

Deaths like Mr. Kangas’ are influenced by the unsafe design and maintenance of our roads and infrastructure. While they are not wholesale preventable, we can reduce their occurrence through better design choices. I hope that Caltrans takes seriously Mr. Kangas’ death and reconsiders pedestrian safety improvements along Highway 101.

As a society, we are driving more, driving bigger vehicles, and failing to provide safe pedestrian infrastructure, all of which has caused a 35 percent increase in pedestrian deaths nationwide over the last decade. Tragedies like this one result from choices we have made together, as well as choices made by the drivers involved. Let’s focus on the real roots of the problem and not settle for blaming the victim.

Tom Wheeler, Eureka; board member, Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities

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