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Where are the lights?

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Where are the lights?

By Liz Kotalik. CREATED Feb 13, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The number of pedestrians killed walking our streets last year was more than two times the number in 2012.

The similarities? Most of the pedestrian deaths happened at night.

One of those accidents happened at Oracle and Rudasill on the night of November 6th.

Dominique Landreville was walking home from work on the dark stretch of road when she was hit by a car.

She is now severely brain damaged, and being taken care of by her parents.

"Thanksgiving came around, then Christmas came around, it was really hard because she's always helped with making the food and stuff," Dominique's mom, Karena, told Nine On Your Side.

Police reports say she was jay-walking, but her parents believe she was walking on the side of the road.

However, what cannot be disputed is the darkness. The same darkness that we've seen at 14 out of the 20 scenes in 2013 where a pedestrian was hit by a car and killed.

"They have bus stops [on Oracle]," Dominique's father, James, said. "[But there's] not a single light on that entire road."
 
So what's the problem?
 
Some of our viewers have written in, blaming our dark sky ordinances that restrict light pollution in certain parts of the city and county.
 
Why a need for such a rule?
 
"A truly dark, beautiful sky, is really a moving experience to see."
 
Scott Kardel with the International Dark Skies Association tells 9OYS that what we have here in Tucson is amazingly unique.
 
"That star-filled night sky inspired art and religion and philosophy and science for all time...and now, not so much."
 
So Kardel says preserving a clear canvas for observatories like Kitt Peak is pivotal for not only science, but also our economy.
 
Thousands of astronomers flock to Tucson for our beautiful sky-scape.
 
But dark skies don't have to equal dark streets.
 
"We're not in the business of telling people not to use light at night," Kardel said. "We're in the business of telling people to be thoughtful about the light they use at night and to make sure that it's used in appropriate ways."
 
In most cases, as long as the light isn't facing up, it's good to go. There are also lights that are metered by sensors that will only turn on if someone is nearby.
 
But at the end of the day, that's money.
 
The city says, it costs them about $300,000 to light up a mile of road. That's about $15,000 per light, depending on the circumstance.
 
It's money Councilman Steve Kozachik wishes we had.
 
"It comes out of our HURF dollars, which also compete for things like median maintenance and road repair," Kozachik said. "It's all competing for a smaller pot of money. We're about 10 million dollars down now what we got from the state for HURF."
 
The legislature is set to vote on a bill that would restore that fund.
 
If passed, $9 million would go to the city, and another $9 million would go to the county.
 
Again, that money would then be divided up between lights, and repairing parts of the road like pot holes and other maintenance.
 
Until then, another message needs to be heard.
 
Police have ruled that 12 out of the 20 pedestrian deaths last year were at the fault of the pedestrian.
 
Staying in crosswalks and lighting yourself could be a safe way to wait until the city and county light the streets.
 
It's not a new message, but it's an important one.
 
One that could save your life, and one that could make our streets safer.
 
If you'd like to donate to Dominique's recovery fund, CLICK HERE.
 

 

Liz Kotalik

Liz Kotalik

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Liz Kotalik is so proud to work in her home state of Arizona with her KGUN9 family. She anchors the 7 a.m. morning show "GMT Extra" on the CW Tucson every weekday, and also reports for later newscasts.