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The Stranger’s Charles Mudede says Aurora crash not driver’s fault

Traffic on Seattle's Aurora Bridge. (WSDOT)

Police believe that meth was behind last Friday’s devastating Aurora crash in Fremont, which left two pedestrians in their 20s dead and two other pedestrians injured.

According to the police report, the 23-year-old driver, Radalyn King, told law enforcement that she closed her eyes while she was driving and crashed her car intentionally. Police are still waiting on a blood test, but they noted in the report that her behavior and symptoms matched those of a person high on meth, including nonsensical speech, droopy eyelids, watery eyes, and laughing at the scene of the crash.

However, according to The Stranger’s Charles Mudede, Seattleites would rather blame the fatal Aurora crash on one driver than look at the greater problem at hand. In a Stranger op-ed on Monday, he stated that the real reason behind this crash and so many others in the area is a society that “prioritizes the mobility of cars in all of its transportation decisions and policies.”

When walking down a street, an American human is around 190 pounds. But when in an automobile, the human assumes the size and weight of a hippo, the most dangerous animal there is. What we can be certain of is that people like King and the victims of the crash on Aurora Avenue were raised in a culture that’s structured to do as little as legally possible about the consequences of humans having the destructive power of hippos on crowded city streets.

Dori: Aurora Avenue fatal crash the result of our lax drug policies

“I know that we want to pin this on an individual, because that makes us feel okay about the state of traffic in this city, which is terrible,” Mudede told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It’s terrible for pedestrians, it’s terrible for cyclists, and it’s terrible for drivers as well.”

In the piece, Mudede noted that half a dozen people have lost their lives in vehicle crashes on Aurora just this calendar year, and that other crashes did not include drug use. He criticized the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation for spending so much of their budgets on making roads better for cars, but not doing anything to improve safety.

“The real issue is, cars move too fast in the city,” he said. “And the problem is, we don’t police cars like we should,” he said.

He pointed out that cars often drive illegally in bus lanes downtown without facing repercussions.

“I don’t have any problems with automobiles in the sense that they’re useful for some people, they definitely are,” he said. “But in a city that is really dense and hasn’t had any major infrastructural improvements, has exploded in population, we’re still driving the same roads — we have not done a reality check.”

Although he has received mail from friends and relatives of the two young victims, and sympathizes with their grief, he said that he can’t back down from his stance.

“I’m really sorry about the loss, I know it’s terrible, but I have to stick with the larger issue that is at stake,” he said. “I cannot be swallowed up in the details of the situation.”

Mudede blames the driver for her alleged actions in the specific incident, from a broader perspective, he finds she is not the culprit because she is simply part of a system that gives all the power to cars.

“At the end of the day, when I look at the larger picture, if I back away from the situation, I can confidently say she’s not to blame,” he said, adding, “It’s tough, but in the end it will produce the correct results if we accept that logic.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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