Pedestrian safety is sometimes overlooked in communities with heavy vehicle traffic and minimal foot traffic. In places where car culture is prominent, drivers often forget that they share the road with pedestrians at crosswalks. Drivers who are not cognizant of walkers, joggers, and runners run the risk of causing injuries if they are not looking both ways when making a turn. Here are steps to help elevate awareness about pedestrian safety.
Analyzing Pedestrian Death Statistics
Throughout the 21st century annual pedestrian fatalities have steadily increased overall, despite the fact that overall traffic fatalities have declined. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pedestrian fatalities accounted for 11 percent of all traffic deaths in 2005. By 2013 the death toll had ticked up to 14 percent, with 4,735 pedestrian deaths. By 2017 the number had risen to nearly 6,000 victims.
Part of the blame can be placed on pedestrians themselves if they are distracted by their smartphones. Drivers, too, have been guilty of paying more attention to their mobile devices than safety, resulting in accidents. Intoxicated pedestrians and drivers can also create conditions for carelessness that lead to injury. Another cause of these collisions is poor headlight design, as many pedestrian accidents occur at night.
An important step for local officials to reduce these tragedies is to study these statistics and figure out patterns. NHTSA data shows that nearly three quarters of these fatalities happen in urban areas. Almost the same percentage reflects pedestrian accidents at non-intersections. Time of day is another factor, as an overwhelming majority of these accidents occur at night. The highest volume of fatalities usually happens 6-9 p.m., whereas the least amount is in the midday from 9 a.m. to noon, when streets are more calm.
Placement of Pedestrian Signs
Deciding where to post "pedestrian crossing" warning signs is a major step that can help reduce serious accidents. These signs are commonly yellow to instantly communicate a warning signal to drivers, as yellow is easy to see from far away and at night. The sign message can be a variation of "pedestrian" or "ped," but in many cases there is no text with just a stick figure of a person walking. In areas too dangerous for walking, such as on narrow roads without sidewalks, it's best to use a "no pedestrian traffic" sign.
Intersections can be dangerous for walkers who are not checking to make sure drivers are looking after their safety. Often when drivers stop at a red light to make a right turn they are only looking left to make sure no traffic is coming. By failing to look right they may unintentionally hit a walker on a crosswalk. Ped Xing signs are sometimes needed at intersections without stop signs. Bright lights can also help provide protection at night.
Pedestrian signs may reduce the rising casualties of individuals on foot. These signs are needed much more in crowded cities than rural areas, based on traffic accident statistics. Contact us at Zumar at our Arizona, California, and Washington location to learn more about promoting pedestrian safety in your community.