The Safety Street Q&A series features NCSR partners, industry leaders and other notable transportation organizations who are working towards the collaborative goal of safer roads.
Anthony Weinmann has worked as a paramedic in Pittsburgh for 30 years. For the past 6 years, he’s served as President of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics Local 1, the union that represents the city’s 160 paramedics.
Safety Street had the chance to ask Anthony about some of the traffic safety problems he and his members face every day.
Safety Street: How much of your work revolves around responding to automobile collisions?
Anthony Weinmann: A significant amount of our time is spent responding to automotive crashes across the city. Pittsburgh EMS Rescue is the only entity that is responsible for rescue situations. There are two trucks designated to rescue 24/7 that are equipped with tools like the “Jaws of Life,” which are designed to enable rescuers to remove people out of the entrapments that often result from car collisions.
Safety Street: What do you think is the most common cause of auto collisions?
Anthony Weinmann: In my experience alcohol plays an important role in vehicular collisions. in addition, most collisions occur at areas such as intersections, stop signs and red lights. I think most problems originate from people being in a hurry, trying to beat a light or cruising through a stop sign.
Safety Street: Do your members respond to many collisions with pedestrians and cyclists?
Anthony Weinmann: Definitely. Many of the car incidents we respond to involve pedestrians. It may be when they are walking, crossing at intersections, or riding on their bikes.
Safety Street:What is the number one thing drivers in Pittsburgh and across the country could do to be safer? What is the most important tip you would give them?
Anthony Weinmann: Distraction while drivers are talking and texting on their cell phones have increased in recent years. It is becoming more common and more concerning, and the consequences can be devastating. I can’t stress enough the importance of the following four points: wearing seat belts; storing cell phones while driving; obeying traffic lights and driving at posted speeds.
Safety Street: Pittsburgh City Council recently voted to authorize red-light safety cameras. What was your reaction to the news?
Anthony Weinmann: I was pleased, as were my members. We believe the cameras will help decrease the number of crashes that involve running a red light. It will make people more aware of the lights and less likely to speed up to “beat” them.
Safety Street: Why does your organization support the use of red-light safety cameras?
Anthony Weinmann: We believe the cameras will lead to a reduction in collisions and a reduction in injuries. That’s our bottom line. Paramedics believe overall safety will improve once people realize that they will pay a price for running red lights, even if police officers aren’t able to monitor every corner. Our job is saving the lives of people who are in injured during crashes. Reducing the number of people who are injured unnecessarily is an objective we all support.
Safety Street: Is there a particular part of Pittsburgh where reckless drivers are a big problem?
Anthony Weinmann: It’s hard to narrow it down to a single area. As with many communities, there are many busy intersections in town and not just one problematic area. Some areas of town that are particularly vulnerable to problems are those that have a large amount of traffic or major roadways.
Downtown and Oakland where the universities and hospitals are, including the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, are both found to be especially problematic when it comes to pedestrian and cyclist collisions.