Be Street Smart!
MVRPC is proud to be the local sponsor of the Street Smart Pedestrian Safety Campaign. You may have seen new, powerful images on billboards, or on the sides of buses, encouraging drivers to watch out for pedestrians, and encouraging pedestrians to walk defensively. These are important messages, because while walking is great exercise, and a good way to relax, walking near traffic or across roads and streets can be dangerous, and pedestrians need to follow a few simple guidelines to stay safe. Plus, drivers should be aware that warm weather means more walkers.
MVRPC's Executive Director, Brian O. Martin, recently spoke with WHIO News to highlight the campaign and remind both motorists and pedestrians to be aware on busy, city streets.
A few statistics to keep in mind:
- Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are up over 10% nationwide from last year, and up even more in Ohio. It seems that every week, in our own Region, there is another sad story of a pedestrian seriously hurt, or killed.
- Most (over 75%) pedestrian fatalities happen in the dark, or at dawn or dusk.
- Many pedestrian fatalities involve alcohol or drugs – either the driver or the walker is under the influence.
- Many, but not all, fatalities are outside of crosswalks – places where drivers don’t expect somebody to be walking.
- Finally, the health benefits of walking and biking far outweigh the dangers. While fatal accidents make the news, individual deaths from heart disease and diabetes usually don’t. As a community, we need to walk and bike more, but we should do it safely.
- In 2015 MVRPC analyzed crash data from 2011-2013 in the Miami Valley. More information on Pedestrian and other transportation safety is available on the Transportation Safety webpage.
A Message to Drivers: Pedestrians have every right to be on, or near, all streets and roads except limited access highways. Drivers must be on the lookout for pedestrians, and always yield to them. Worrying about who is “right” is less important than saving a life. When behind the wheel, please focus on driving, control your speed, and stop at stop signs and red lights. Don’t speed up to “beat the light”, or become too engaged with your surroundings – keep your eyes on the road.
Here are some simple tips that pedestrians can follow to stay safe when walking near traffic:
- If there is a sidewalk, use it. If you must walk in the street, walk on the left FACING TRAFFIC. That way you can see an approaching vehicle and get out of danger if you need to.
- Wear light-colored or reflective clothing at night, or at dawn or dusk. Dress children the same way when they are waiting for the bus in the early hours, or are walking in the evening.
- If you regularly walk or jog at night, consider wearing lights. There are a variety of lighted wristbands, clip-ons, or even vests to make sure you are visible to traffic. Or just carry a flashlight.
- If there is a crosswalk, use it. If not, make sure that you can see any approaching cars and wait for an appropriate time to cross. Prior to crossing, when in doubt, wait.
- Even if it is your turn to cross at a light, make eye contact with any approaching vehicles that have not come to a stop, just to make sure that they see the light, and you.
- Watch out for turning vehicles at intersections. Glance over your shoulder to make sure a car isn’t going to turn into your path.
- Look out for drivers that seem distracted or who are driving strangely. Move farther away from the road if you are concerned.
- Don’t walk distracted; look up from your phone when crossing a street, or better still, put it away entirely when walking along a busy road.
- Remember, driving under the influence can be fatal. So can walking under the influence.
This campaign is adapted from Street Smart campaign funded by District of Columbia, District Department of Transportation, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Virginia Highway Safety Office and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. BeStreetSmart.net for more information.