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Another Pedestrian Killed on Van Ness in S.F.

Earlier this week, I wrote about 'Vision Zero,' San Francisco's admirable goal to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero over the course of the next ten years. The initiative couldn't come at a better time. This past year had the highest pedestrian death toll (21) since 2007. And just last night, a tragic hit-and-run on Van Ness and Pacific resulted in the city's third fatality of 2014.

The accident occurred Wednesday morning at 1 a.m., when a pedestrian who has now been identified as 35-year-old city resident Paul Lambert, attempted to cross Van Ness in the middle of the block. The driver, 27-year-old Mageb Hussain, appeared to be going too fast to stop for Lambert, and he hit the victim with his car. Lambert died at the scene. After that, authorities say that Hussain attempted to flee the scene, and so they have arrested him under suspicion of both vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run.

If the paper is correct about Hussain's driving record, his driving last night and decision to flee the scene, are better understood. Hussain had been cited on three separate occasions in March and April of 2011, twice for speeding and once for driving on a sidewalk. Then, after failing to show up for his court appearances, his license was suspended until October of last year.

It sounds like Hussain will have his day in court, but the victim's family should also file a wrongful death claim separate from the criminal case. This would allow Lambert's loved ones a shot at getting some compensation from the driver's insurance policy. I am guessing that Mr. Hussain may not have adequate insurance coverage for this claim. The report says he was driving a rental car at the time of the accident, so the car rental agency may also have an insurance policy that could potentially provide some coverage. Regardless, the family should seek legal counsel immediately in order to take the proper steps to file this type of suit.

So what should the city of San Francisco take from this horrible tragedy? It's hard to say yet until someone gets out there to really see how this accident happened. Was there vision obstruction? Was the driver attempting to avoid one of the many potholes here in the City and perhaps failed to see the mid-block pedestrian?

Maybe there was no other reason for this accident other than Hussain's poor driving. Nevertheless, it is time all of these pedestrian accidents be investigated and their similarities and differences analyzed to determine if there is something that can be done to make this city better for us all. Let's move toward the goal of achieving zero fatalities by 2014.

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