The fact that working adults have years of experience using the road system mayexplain why this group, comprising 60 percent of the population, has only 50percent of the pedestrian crashes. The resiliency of youth fades in this group,however, and it experiences a fatality rate equal to its population numbers. Ofthe mishaps happening to working adults, 6.8 percent result in death.
Older adults have fewer mishaps than would be expected for the size of this agegroup due to, perhaps, their many years of experience and a lowered use of theroad system. But a frailty factor likely operates here, and a large percentageof these mishaps16.1 percent result in fatalities.
When pedestrians are involved in motor vehicle crashes, the results areusually disastrous. Close to 6,000 pedestrians are killed each year in trafficcrashes, often the result of alcohol use by the pedestrian, the motorist, orboth, plus excessive speed by the motorist. These causes account for almost 15percent of all annual fatalities.
Males account for about 70 percent of the pedestrian fatalities, making themover-represented. The male pedestrian fatality rate is 3.24 per l00,000populationmore than twice the rate for females.
Nearly the same number of pedestrians are killed on weekday days as on weekdaynights; however, weekend nights see almost twice as many pedestrian fatalitiesas do weekend days.
Approximately 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Half of thevictims under 16 years of age are killed in crashes that occur between 3:00p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Seventy percent of the pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, and 82percent of fatally injured pedestrians are at non-intersection locations.People 65 years and older have the highest pedestrian fatality rates and aremore likely to sustain serious injury or death if struck by a motor vehicle.They account for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
Twenty-eight percent of annual pedestrian fatalities involve children under theage of five. Pedestrian mishaps are the single largest cause of death ofchildren ages 5-9 years. More than 25 percent of the traffic fatalities underage 16 are pedestrians.
Alcohol involvement, either for the driver or pedestrian, is reported in morethan half of the motor vehicle crashes that result in pedestrian fatalities.Nearly one-third of the pedestrians involved are intoxicated, with BAC levelsof 0.10 or greater. While the percentage of alcohol-related traffic accidentsinvolving drivers and passengers in motor vehicles has been steadily declining,the percentage of alcohol-involved pedestrian accidents has remained relativelyconstant.
Pedestrian Safety Programs
Commitment by the law enforcement agency's chief executive is essential to thesuccess of a pedestrian law enforcement program. Involving the community in theplanning and implementation of such a program is equally important.The goals of a pedestrian safety law enforcement program are to have citizensbe aware of and comply with the pedestrian laws and to have police officersenforce these laws.
It is only logical to have both the police and the community working togetheron a program aimed at citizen behavior. Prob-ably no single organization has agreat deal of time to devote to pedestrian safety; however, by poolingresources you can have a significant impact.
The method agencies use to train officers placed on traffic assign-mentsenhances the effectiveness of a pedestrian program. Recruit schools and trafficcommanders need to explain and emphasize the reasons why pedestrian lawenforcement is important. They need to sell their officers on enforcement byusing educational efforts.
Suggested training tools for educating police officers about pedestrian lawenforcement include using the same safety messages communicated to the generalpublic by television, radio, or brochures; placing articles about pedestriansafety and enforcement concepts in police memos and bulletins; and developingenforcement videotapes to be shown at roll call.
When issuing a citation to a pedestrian or motorist for a pedestrianviolation, officers should be encouraged to run a check on the violator'slicense. The officer may find that the violator is a wanted criminal or isdriving on a suspended license. Officers will then see that they are not onlyreducing the pedestrian problem but also responding to other crimes.For traffic officers to enforce pedestrian laws and be dedicated to theprogram, police supervisors must communicate their support and provide positivereinforcement, and top management must trust its commitment.
Obstacles to Enforcement
Throughout the country, police agencies run into obstacles when trying toenforce pedestrian laws. These obstacles include a lack of interest orunderstanding, the severity of other law enforcement programs, insufficienttraining or funding, weak laws governing impaired pedestrians, and inadequatesupport from the judicial system, where many judges do not support efforts toticket pedestrian safety violators.
By decriminalizing public intoxication, lawmakers intended that public drunkswould be treated rather than punished. However, when that law changed and theresources directed toward public health facilities for alcohol treatment nevermaterialized, police officers were left with no permissible law enforcementresponse and no places to take public drunks. In some jurisdictions, theincreased emphasis on anti-DWI programs has led to more intoxicated persons onfoot and an increase in the number of alcohol-involved pedestrian crashes.We can often remove some of the obstacles to pedestrian safety enforcement bylearning from the successes of other jurisdictions. Invite police officers orcommanders from other agencies to explain how pedestrian laws are enforced, andhow tickets are issued in their jurisdictions. Inform judges and prosecutorsabout your program and the statistics concerning pedestrian crashes. Involvemembers of the judicial system in planning your pedestrian law enforcementprogram.
Planning to enforce pedestrian laws where they have not been enforcedbefore will only lead to resistance unless the public is educated beforehand.The pedestrian safety program is effective only when it successfully integratesenforcement, education, and engineering. Once a community has been educatedabout pedes-trian safety and understands the importance of following the laws,it is more likely to support a law enforcement program. Educational programscan mobilize community support for pedestrian law enforcement, which is crucialto its success. Ten years ago, people did not expect to be arrested for DWI andif arrested, expected minimal punishment. Today, DWI is considered a seriousoffense and carries serious penalties and a social stigma. The difference oftenis attributed to organized public support and demand for enforcement fromgroups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Educating the public will change attitudes, improve skills, and increaseknowledge about pedestrian safety issues.
Pedestrian Education Issues
Some pedestrians dart out into the street without stopping or looking fortraffic, and others cross at intersections without checking for turningtraffic.
Pedestrians sometimes do not understand what flashing Don't walksignals mean. They mean, Continue your trip but do not start if you havenot yet begun. Pedestrians often begin crossing the street as theDon't walk signal is flashing, instead of waiting for the nextsignal cycle. Some pedestrians also disregard crossing signals altogether andcross the street when they think it is clear.
Pedestrians frequently do not realize the importance of being able to seemotorists as well as being seen by them. Some walk along the roadway in thedirection of traffic and cannot see traffic coming up behind them. Others walkin the street or along the roadway at night without any reflective clothing.Pedestrians are unaware of the dangers involved by stepping out of a vehicleonce it has been disabled. When pedestrians step out of a car, they often walk too closely to the road. When they cross theymay misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles, especially on high-speedroadways.
Children do not perceive moving vehicles in the same way adults do. Theyfrequently lack the ability to judge the speed of oncoming vehicles.Pedestrians crossing high-speed roadways or rural roads are often unable tojudge the speed of oncoming vehicles. Some pedestrians walk through parkinglots or pass driveways without looking for moving vehicles.Crashes usually involve a behavioral error on the part of the pedestrian, themotorist, or both. Motorists' behavioral errors can be seen in exceeding thespeed limit; failing to slow down when driving through residential areas inwhich children are playing; and failing to reduce their speeds on city streets,in shopping areas, or in the vicinity of crosswalks where pedestrians areabundant. Many motorists turn without looking for pedestrians crossing theirpaths, particularly in right-turn-on-red situations. They ignore the lawrequiring them to yield or stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.Motorists may back up without checking for pedestrians behind the vehicle, aparticular hazard for delivery trucks calling on house-holds. Also, motoristsmay pass stopped vehicles, such as school buses, and thus endangerpedestrians.
Properly planned and sustained enforcement programs and public education makepeople adopt intelligent practices for both walking and driving. You can assistby developing a public information campaign, with a mediapacketcontaining information about pedestrian laws, high-risk behaviors,accident statistics, and particularly dangerous intersections or areas of yourcommunityto be distributed to newspapers, radio, television, andcommunity bulletins.
Publicity EffortsA Necessity
Holding a media conference when pedestrian issues are more likely to gainattention, such as when schools open or close, can be a particularly effectivetime to kick off a pedestrian safety program. Newspaper articles can be used to ask the public to identify the mosthazardous areas in the community for pedestrians. Active or retired officerscan provide public information at scheduled programs in local schools andclubs.
Dispatching a brochure about pedestrian safety with all traffic citations andwritten warnings is another effective method of educating the public. You mayalso wish to consider including a survey about pedestrian safety as a means ofobtaining information about how much individuals know about this topic.You can ask public transit agencies to include pedestrian safety advertisementson the exteriors and interiors of their buses. Motor vehicle authorities shouldbe encouraged to include a section on pedestrian laws, rights, and obligationson driver's tests, in driver education programs, and in violator schools.In your educational efforts, personalize the issue by showing how a loved onecould be a pedestrian at risk. Victims' stories told from a point of view assurvivors are effective in such campaigns. Because most drivers also walk,appeal to them from both perspectives. How do they behave toward pedestrianswhen they are driving, and how do they expect a driver to behave toward themwhen they are walking?
Utilities, banks, and other institutions and organizations can beencouraged to include pedestrian safety information in monthly billings andmailings. The state Motor Vehicle Division can be asked to include suchinformation with automobile registration and driver license renewal notices.Senior citizen groups and youth groups such as the Boys Scouts can be used toassist with mailing tasks.
Encouraging and supporting a pedestrian advocacy operation is also useful. Whenpreparing educational material, stress safety and not punishment. Informcitizens about situations that can be dangerous for pedestrians, rather thantelling them about the jaywalking tickets they can receive.A good idea is to integrate pedestrian safety with corporate health and trafficsafety programs, such as occupant protection, impaired driving, smokingcessation, and weight control. Your message can reach many more people than itwould if you were doing it alone, and your limited funding and resources arethus maximized for a greater impact.
Your pedestrian safety program will be much more effective if you gain thesupport of government officials, community leaders, and organizations byforming a pedestrian safety committee of individuals who have an interest intraffic safety issues. Potential members can include representatives fromgovernment, the Safety Council, the school system, media, automobile clubs,youth, civic, and senior citizen organizations; traffic engineers; and hospitalor trauma center personnel. Networking with community groups is an excellentmethod for obtaining citizen input as you develop and implement pedestriansafety programs.
Cooperation with Engineers
Traffic engineering countermeasures can improve pedestrian safety by modifyingthe physical environment. Solutions can range from painting crosswalks toconstructing pedestrian overpasses.
Engineering and enforcement interventions to improve safety can includemodification of stoplight signals to increase pedestrian crossing time, new roadway markings to emphasize crosswalks, pedestriansignals on median islands, oversized speed limit signs, and increased policeenforcement of the speed limit.
City planning departments should be made aware of pedestrian issues andconsider them when approving site plans. Typical urban problems, such astraffic volume, limited resources, and crime, pose problems for pedestriansthat may not be addressed as a community grows.
Engineering factors regarding pedestrian safety should be integrated into thecommunity plans, including overhead cross-walks, sidewalks, marked crosswalks,street lighting, shortened city blocks, and curb ramps for the disabled.
Strategies for High-Risk Populations
Specific pedestrian populations have been identified as being high-risk. Theyare either over represented in pedestrian crashes, or they put themselves invulnerable positions as pedestrians. These high-risk individuals include olderadults, alcohol-impaired pedestrians, and children. Increase enforcement in areas where there are high concentrations of olderadults. When pedestrians see officers ticketing violators, they will be morelaw-abiding themselves.
Crossing guards can be assigned to high-concentration areas during peak timesor at designated times publicized to older adults. Placing crossing guards inconcentrated areas greatly reduces the opportunities for motorists to violatepedestrian laws. Sometimes, volunteer crossing guards can be obtained throughorganizations such as the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) orretired police officers' groups.
Determine where older pedestrians walk to shop, eat, or exercise, particularlyin areas with high concentrations of older adults, such as retirementcommunities. The Department of Social Services or senior citizen centers canhelp police departments identify such locations, as well as the times whenolder adults are most likely to be in high-traffic areas. Suggestions can be made to older adults aboutthe safest times to be pedestrians.
Many older pedestrians are killed while crossing legally in cross-walks. A highrate of older pedestrian are involved in right-turn-on- red and left turncrashes. Radio and television public service announcements, which reach a wideaudience, can stress messages aimed at older adults to make them more aware oftheir limitations and adjust their driving and walking behaviors accordingly.Video or slide presentations can be made to older adult organizations,including church groups and social clubs, who are frequently eager to haveprograms of interest presented to their members.
Mature motorists programs are available from the AARP and the AmericanAutomobile Association. These training programs cover the issue of dealing withback or neck problems that may interfere with an older driver's ability tocheck for pedestrians before backing out of a driveway or parking space andother issues, such as slowed response time, sensory deficiencies, mentaldeficiencies, and other behavioral defects.
Inform traffic planners of the engineering needs for older adults. Offersuggestions for countermeasures that will aid older adults: bigger signs; timedpush-button crossing lights to allow a longer pedestrian crossing time; refugeislands to provide a safe haven for those unable to cross the street during onepedestrian crossing signal cycle; high-visibility crosswalks with overheadlighting, flashing lights, or reflectors to allow motorists and pedestrians tosee them better; delayed green lights on all-ways stop for motorists so thatpedestrians can cross in any direction or get a head start on crossing beforevehicles make their turn; and the construction of fences and barricades todirect pedestrian flow to intersections and discourage mid-block crossings.
Law enforcement options for handling intoxicated pedestrians arelimited now that public intoxication has been decriminalized. Education is thebest way to encourage pedestrians to look for alternate forms of transportationwhen drinking. Your agency can also participate in legislative action tocriminalize walking while intoxicated.
The message to be communicated to the public is that intoxicated pedestrianspresent a hazard to law-abiding motorists as well as to themselves. You candevelop a public service campaign addressing the relationship between alcoholand pedestrian crashes, and expand public education about DWI to include therisks of walking while intoxicated. Enlist the participation of anti-DWI groupsin a campaign to highlight the dangers to pedestrians caused by drunk drivers,and of drunk pedestrians to themselves.
Campaigns can be developed to alert restaurant and bar industries to theproblems related to drinking and walking, especially if you involve the AlcoholBeverage Control Board in your jurisdiction.
Educational countermeasures are most effective with this age group. Enforcementagencies can play a significant role from an educational perspective bydeveloping safety materials for parents; delivering training materials topre-school programs and day-care centers to train child providers to teachchildren about traffic safety skills; developing programs for school crossingguards to instruct children to identify and report maintenance problems such asbroken pedestrian lights or signs that need replacing; and developingschool-based educational programs on pedestrian traffic safety.One simple initiative is the installation of a mechanical arm that swings outten feet in front of a school bus so that children must walk around it to crossthe street and will be more visible to the bus driver.
Other High-Risk Populations
Other populations at risk are pedestrians on high-speed roadways and tourists.Convincing the highway engineering departments to construct overpasses andbarricades, so that pedestrians are prevented from crossing high-speedroadways, can help reduce collisions in these locations. Distributinginformation about the dangers of crossing high-speed roadways can also beeffective when they address vehicle distance and speed as well as alcoholimpairment problems.
Motorists need to be aware of the risks they take when they get out of disabledcars on high-speed roadways. Pedestrians have been killed while standing in theroad wondering what to do, while working on their cars, or while attempting toflag down assistance. It is extremely important to distribute information onthe dangers and safety precautions motorists should take when their vehiclesbecomes disabled. Transportation departments should be encouraged to installtelephones along expressways so that pedestrians can call for vehicleassistance, and to post signs instructing motorists what to do if their carsbreak down.
Police can work with hotel and motel associations to develop public informationand education materials for tourists, including information on the dangers ofwalking after drinking. Hotels and motels can be encouraged to distributepedestrian safety materials to guests as they arrive and to develop maps withsafe pedestrian routes. Pedestrian educational materials can be placed at reststops along interstates and can be included on, or attached to, state touristmaps.
Construction Zone Safety
An enforcement program is the best approach to deal with the safety ofconstruction workers on high-speed roadways.The Michigan State Police developed a program called Construction Zone AccidentReduction (CZAR). It involved a pre-enforcement study period, an enforcementperiod, and a post-enforcement study. Prior to any enforcement efforts, the studyindicated that cars averaged 56 mph in a posted 45 mph construc-tion zone.Undertaking vigorous enforcement efforts, state police issued speeding ticketsduring the times when construction workers were present. A post-enforcementstudy indicated motorists had reduced their speed by an average of 8 mph.In the state of Pennsylvania, a double fine is imposed for speeding inconstruction zones. Signs describing the fine for each incremental speedviolation and the amount if doubled are posted to inform motorists of theirfinancial liability.
Federal funds available to highway and traffic safety initiatives in states andlocal areas are known as Section 402 funds. These formula grant program fundsare intended to aid the states in conducting approved highway safety programs,under the direction of the governor's highway safety representative. City andcounty government agencies are eligible for 402 grants to fund activities inpriority program areas such as occupant protection, police traffic services,alcohol and other drug countermeasures, emergency medical service, trafficrecords, motorcycle safety, and pedestrian/bicycle safety. For information onthese programs, contact your state governor's representative for highwaysafety.
Federal funds are also available to conduct research, develop new technology,and demonstrate new strategies and technology in the field of highway trafficsafety. Referred to as Section 403 funds, they are awarded through grants,contracts, and cooperative agree-ments with state governments, universities,and consultants.
Several other sources of federal funding are available for highway safetystrategies. These are incentive grants, awarded to states meeting certainlegislative and program requirements.
Section 153 funds are awarded to states that have safety belt and motorcyclehelmet use laws and that reach certain usage levels specified by law. Section408 and 410 funds are awarded to states that have passed legislation such asadministrative license revocation, mandatory jail for repeat alcohol offenders, and lowerlegal BAC content levels, and that have programs that control access to alcoholby use, conduct sobriety checkpoints, and have self-sustaining alcoholprograms. For more information on any of these programs, contact yourgovernor's representative for high-way safety.
Available pedestrian safety materials include the AAA Traffic Safety ServicesCatalog, published by the American Automobile Association, Traffic SafetyDepartment, 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, Florida, 32746; and the PedestrianAccident Reduction Guide, distributed by the National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration, NTS-23, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20590. The WalkAlert Program Guide is published by the National Safety Council, 444 NorthMichigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60611-3911. The National Safety Councilalso produces a Watchful Willy Preschool Pedestrian Program aimedat preschool children to modify behavior and increase safety awareness. The AAAalso produces a booklet entitled, Older Adult Pedestrian Safety, that giveslocal communities guidelines for the development of programs that meet olderadult pedestrian safety problems. The National Safety Council has a similarbrochure entitled Walk Alert: Pedestrian Safety for Older Adults.The National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1834 ConnecticutAvenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20009 has a program, entitled Walking inTraffic Safely (WITS). This traffic education curriculum package foryoung children, aged pre-school to six years old, is designed to teach themabout streets and cars. Any of these programs are yours for the asking.