The California State Senate along with the Office of Traffic Safety have declared September “Pedestrian Safety Month” to raise awareness and combat the rising number of pedestrian fatalities in our state.
California has seen a sharp rise in pedestrian fatalities over the last 10 years, 815 pedestrians were killed in 2015 alone according to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows pedestrians and bicyclists account for nearly 30 percent of roadway deaths in California and 7,000 have died in the last 10 years. Our pedestrian fatality rate is almost 70 percent higher than other states, according to SWITRS. In addition, almost 12,000 pedestrians are seriously injured each year.
As part of our continuing efforts to address the issue, the Office of Traffic Safety has launched a statewide campaign to promote safe practices by motorists and pedestrians to reduce these high numbers.
The campaign features characters, clad in body armor made from car parts, that represent everyday pedestrians. These characters remind everyone that in real life, pedestrians don’t have armor and always lose when hit by a vehicle, no matter who is at fault.
The campaign also reminds Californians of safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians:
TIPS FOR DRIVERS:
- The most dangerous driving behaviors around pedestrians: speeding, distractions (especially cell phones), and failure to yield. Slow down, put down the phone, and look around you.
- Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
- Any pedestrian at a crosswalk or intersection, marked or unmarked, has the right of way. When you see them at the corner, slow and stop.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
- Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
- Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.
TIPS FOR PEDESTRIANS:
- The most dangerous behaviors of pedestrians near roadways: jay walking, distractions (especially cell phones), and assuming you can be seen.
- Cross at crosswalks or intersections, obey signs and signals.
- Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
- Stop staring at the phone. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
- Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night. Drivers usually can’t see you on a dark street until they are about 100 feet from you.
- Look left-right-left before crossing a street.
This campaign is part of a concentrated effort by the State Transportation Agency and our departments to address the issue of pedestrian fatalities head on as we continue to promote walking as a greener alternative to driving.
As part of this effort, Caltrans is developing the first-ever California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (CSBPP), which will be a visionary and comprehensive policy plan to support active modes of transportation aimed at improving safety and access for everyone across all transportation modes, particularly bicycle and pedestrian. The plan is anticipated to be complete by February of next year.
In addition, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is emphasizing safe walking through its international award-winning California Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Enforcement and Education Project, and provides educational resources on their website.
For more information and resources on pedestrian safety:
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/community/tips_pedestrian.cfm
Safe Kids: https://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips
Safe Routes to School: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/