IRVING, Texas — Narayan Mahajan does not have the heart to tell his 3-year-old what happened to his mother. Anupama Mahajan was walking to a math tutoring class when she was struck and killed by a vehicle.
It has been a painful two months for the family in Irving.
"Everything is different. My world is totally changed," Narayan Mahajan said.
Anupama was struck after a vehicle failed to yield the right-of-way and struck another vehicle, according to a police report. The collision forced the oncoming vehicle into the 34-year-old mother of two.
"Why should we go through this pain? It shouldn't happen to anyone. It happened to us," Mahajan said.
On Monday, TxDOT launched its BE SAFE. DRIVE SMART. campaign. It is a pedestrian safety initiative to remind drivers and pedestrians to slow down, be alert and obey traffic laws.
Last year there were more than 5500 crashes involving pedestrians which resulted in 632 fatalities.
Locally, the number of auto-pedestrian crashes appears to be trending downward. So far this year, 55 of these crashes have happened in Jefferson County according to TxDOT. Last year, there were 111 hit.
Sarah Dupre is the public information officer for TxDOT's Beaumont district.
She said in the 8-county district, 17 pedestrians died last year.
"We want to bring that crash number down to zero," Dupre said. "Drivers and pedestrians can take small different actions that can make huge differences and helping to get everyone home safely at the end of the day."
TxDOT says one of the top factors is drivers not yielding the right-of-way, which is what happened in Anupama's case.
"We have population growth, congestion on the road. We're constantly improving our projects and roadways," TxDOT spokesperson Danielle Boyd said.
Mahajan agrees that pedestrian safety needs to be stressed. However, he is struggling with the notion that nobody has been held responsible for his wife's death.
"I want them to be brought to justice," he said.
He said it is an injustice that none of the drivers were arrested or charged. Irving Police told 12News' sister station WFAA there are rarely charges brought on ticketable offenses such as not yielding the right-of-way.
Attorney Scott Becker is not connected to this case but talked to WFAA about the subject of criminal and civil culpability. Becker, of McCathern Law Firm, said the decision whether to prosecute is at the discretion of the District Attorney.
"Not every tragedy is somebody's fault and sometimes that makes it more of a tragedy," Becker said.
But Mahajan may have a civil claim, which he tells WFAA he is pursuing.
His 3-year-old still thinks mom hasn't come home from tutoring.
TxDOT gives the following tips for their BE SAFE. DRIVE SMART. campaign:
If you’re driving:
- Reduce your speed when approaching crosswalks and stop for pedestrians.
- Yield the right of way to pedestrians when turning.
- Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
- Stay alert and put your phone away—pedestrians may enter your path suddenly.
- Obey the speed limit and drive to conditions.
If you’re walking:
- Use sidewalks whenever they’re available. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
- Always cross at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, then right, then left again before proceeding.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
- Don’t be distracted by devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
- As a passenger, get in or out of a vehicle on the curbside of the street.
Whether you’re driving or walking, alcohol can impair your judgment, coordination and reaction times.