It is human nature that if we consider it at all, we tend to think only about ourselves when it comes to highway safety, primarily the chances of us or our loved ones being killed or seriously injured in a car crash. But pedestrians represent about one in six of all people killed on America’s roads and we are all pedestrians at times.
While it is clear that crosswalks must be suitably designed for disabled users, it is equally essential that drivers are always prepared to make it safe for such individuals to cross. Unfortunately, however, far too many drivers are oblivious to the things that require their attention.
A study in the USA found that the fatality rate for people using wheelchairs when crossing roads is 36% higher than for regular pedestrians.
With just over 6,000 pedestrian deaths a year [re 2017, NHTSA], the USA sadly has a very poor record in protecting people on foot.
Back in 2004, it was reported in U.S. national media that the “push-to-cross” buttons at most of New York City’s crosswalks were disconnected to prevent pedestrians from interrupting traffic flow, and it has just been revealed that now, in 2018, an even greater proportion of the City’s crosswalks have non-functional buttons.
The stated purpose of delaying pedestrians in this manner is to keep vehicles moving and reduce traffic jams. This may be all well and good when traffic is busy but this approach, when used around the clock, inevitably will annoy pedestrians.
This is just one fine example of the countless excellent and usually unsung tasks done by on-duty and off-duty police officers, every single day of the year. It has been posted here with full permission from its author, Temporary Sergeant Karen Stanton, whose important goal is to highlight the crucial importance of cyclists wearing helmets. If you are not convinced, check out the image of the boy’s head scan, below.
Just a few days ago, on June 11, 2018, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas announced a $62 million investment in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, here in our own home state of New York . This multi-agency initiative will include the Department of Health, DMV, Capital District Transportation Authority and local enforcement agencies. This is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, but let’s get straight to the point, the USA has a stunningly bad track record for pedestrian injuries and deaths, with almost exactly six thousand being killed nationwide, and a vastly greater number being injured, during the last statistical year alone.
Excerpt: “…Pedestrian deaths have jumped 46 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2009, as pedestrian crashes have become both deadlier and more frequent. The increase has been mostly in urban or suburban areas, at non-intersections, on arterials — busy roads designed mainly to funnel vehicle traffic toward freeways — and in the dark, a new IIHS study shows. Crashes were increasingly likely to involve SUVs and high-horsepower vehicles…
Regrettably, there are many things that drivers frequently do that make things very unsafe for people on bicycles, but of course that isn’t the full story.
According to national figures, it would appear that the number of collisions between motorized vehicles and horse-drawn buggies is not changing significantly, but straighter, faster rural roads combined with a growth in Amish populations is causing concern amongst highway safety professionals.
Bicycles are involved in many crashes, injuries and deaths, and there should be a focus on preventing these events from happening.
With support from the Danish foundation TrygFonden, the Traffic Research Group at Aalborg University has completed the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the safety effect of high-visibility bicycle clothing.