CDOT pedestrian signal

CDOT pedestrian signal

In Colorado last year, drivers were at fault about 60% of the time in accidents in which pedestrians were injured or killed, according to the state’s Department of Transportation (CDOT). And because that means that pedestrians were to blame about 40% of the time, the Department has launched a pedestrian safety campaign directed at both walkers and drivers, as the department has announced in a press release.

Called “Awkward Eye Contact Saves Lives — Heads Up at Crosswalks,” the campaign urges the two groups, drivers and pedestrians, to make sure they are looking at each other’s eyes in order to prevent accidents. The campaign name uses the word “awkward” because it is incorporating media placements across the state especially in places where “awkward eye contact” occurs, such as bathroom stalls, the press release says.

As a brochure from the University of Colorado Police Department reports, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic collision about every eight minutes, on average. Most such accidents happen because of a combination of two factors: the failure of pedestrians to use crosswalks, and the inattentiveness of drivers, the brochure says.

The brochure advises pedestrians to be aware at all times, to use the sidewalk whenever possible, and to walk against the flow of traffic when there is no sidewalk. Those on foot should obey traffic signals and look both ways before crossing. It goes without saying that pedestrians (as well as drivers) should not be texting or otherwise looking at their phones. In addition:

Even if you have the right-of-way, it is important to realize that vehicles may not always stop. Make eye contact with drivers and pay attention to the environment around you. If you are wearing headphones or talking on your cell phone while crossing the street it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and take extra care to avoid dangerous situations.

Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director, said an analysis of 2013 data on pedestrian crashes and fatalities shows that about 20% of the accidents were caused by pedestrians entering the road where there was no crosswalk. She added that almost 38% of such accidents happened at the site of a crosswalk.

CDOT writes that because most crashes involving pedestrians take place between October and March, and spike in October and January, it has timed the campaign to start “just before daylight savings blankets the streets during the fall and winter seasons.” These types of accidents tend to coincide with the work and school week, with most of them occurring between Monday and Friday, “in line with the recent back to school crunch.”

The campaign, which launched this week, runs through September in Denver and Colorado Springs, CDOT says. In the 2013 findings, Denver had 30% of all incidents that occurred within city limits, the largest percentage in the state, CDOT writes. In addition to “ironic bathroom posters,” the campaign will feature notices on “bus tails” and bus shelters, along with digital banners and also radio spots, CDOT writes.

The Department quotes Ford:

‘We’re seeing far too many preventable pedestrian-related crashes and even fatalities on the road,’ said Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director. ‘The simple act of making eye contact at intersections and crosswalks could reverse this growing problem, in turn saving lives.’

CDOT offers more pedestrian safety tips here.

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