An article from a New York newspaper highlighted a new pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign aimed at vehicle drivers. Unlike others of its type, this campaign aimed to create and find unique ways to get drivers’ attention, especially when it comes to crosswalks and bicycle lanes.
Bubble suits and Christmas tree lights are being used to grab the attention of inattentive drivers.
It’s not every day you witness someone crossing the street in a bubble suit, but that’s exactly what you will find at some crosswalks in Rochester, New York. Additionally, some bike riders are skirting around town on bikes covered in Christmas tree lights. Both actions are being taken to attract attention, not from citizens and passersby, but from drivers. Drive 2B Better, Rochester’s new awareness program, is aimed at decreasing the number of auto accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles, as well as cyclists and vehicles. According to data gathered from Rochester emergency departments, there are, on average, 362 incidents per 100,000 residents of a pedestrian and cyclist crashing with a vehicle.
Rochester created Drive 2B Better as a means of promoting the message that vehicle drivers need to be more alert to what is going on around them when it comes to pedestrian and cycling traffic; what better way to emphasize that than put people in crosswalks and bike lanes that, well, stand out. As a senior program manager for the campaign noted, the whole point is to show the extreme measures some people have to take to get noticed when crossing the street or peddling down the road; distracted driving continues to be one of the most dangerous behaviors in Colorado and around the country.
Thousands of Pedestrians Killed in Accidents With Vehicles Every Year
Nationally, around 5000 pedestrians are killed every year, and another 70,000 are injured due to accidents involving vehicles. The Governors Highway Safety Association released its preliminary 2017 Pedestrian Traffic Fatality report, and the numbers are sobering when it comes to pedestrian fatalities. As noted in the report, fatalities involving pedestrians have been increasing for years; there has been a 27 percent increase from 2007 – 2016. At the same time, other traffic fatalities have been decreasing. Even Colorado is seeing an increase in pedestrian fatalities according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
CDOT notes that last year, 93 pedestrians were killed in the state, an increase of 11 percent when compared to 2016 and a 45 percent increase when compared to 2015. This dramatic uptick in fatalities is also one reason why Colorado is running its own public-awareness campaign as a way of continuing to educate both drivers and pedestrians alike, especially those on foot who insist on walking across the street at unmarked crossings. For drivers, the big push is to remind those in vehicles that they need to be extra cautious at crosswalks to ensure that pedestrians are not in danger of being hit.
Safety Islands Now Being Used to Protect Pedestrians
Some street designers are now turning to what’s known as Safety Islands as a means of keeping pedestrians safe. These islands, which are essentially safe stopping points in the middle of busy streets, are being designed to limit a person’s exposure to vehicle traffic, especially on large streets with multiple lanes. Pedestrians, who are unable to make it safely across all the lanes can stop at the island and wait for a light to change or traffic to slow to continue crossing. Federal officials note that cities using these islands have seen a huge benefit in safety; it noted that pedestrian accidents had been reduced by 56 percent in areas using these islands.
Whether you live in an area with these islands or not, as a walker, your safety depends on vehicle drivers being alert and obeying traffic laws; you need to do the same.