The U.S. Department of Transportation deemed October as the first ever National Pedestrian Safety Month, and Caltrans is highlighting its efforts to reduce pedestrian injury and death on California roadways.
Over the last decade, pedestrian deaths have increased, and in California, pedestrians are 37 times more likely to be injured in a collision than any other roadway user.
In addition, between 2008 and 2017, 19% of all collisions that resulted in death or serious injury were pedestrian-related incidents.
Caltrans uses a pedestrian safety toolbox that includes 47 countermeasures to keep pedestrians safe on the state highway system.
These improvements include signal timing enhancement, extended pedestrian crossing times, curb extensions, roundabouts or raised intersections, high-visibility crosswalks, advanced stop and yield markings and “yield to pedestrian” signs, to name a few.
While these are already being implemented, Caltrans expects to identify further safety improvements a year from now.
The California Transportation Commission also recently approved $100 million for projects promoting active transportation options.
These include 310 miles of new and repaired bike lanes, installation and repair of nearly 50 miles of sidewalk, nearly 3,000 new crosswalks and 178 transit stop improvements.
In addition, the California Office of Traffic Safety is also providing more than $8 million in funding for programs dedicated to pedestrian safety.
These programs include: Complete Streets Safety Assessments, which assist local agencies statewide in identifying and implementing infrastructure improvements; Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training programs, which encourage local residents in underserved communities to develop a plan to improve walking and biking safety; Coordinate Walking Tours with health care providers and senior centers, focusing on high-collision areas; and “walking school buses,” groups that walk with students to school and educate them on traffic rules and safe practices.
For drivers, Caltrans lists the following tips to ensure pedestrians’ safety: slow down on busy streets and intersections; avoid distractions; be extra careful approaching crosswalks; be prepared to stop for pedestrians; avoid blocking crosswalks when turning right; and turn headlights on and slow down at night when it’s harder to see.
For pedestrians, Caltrans recommends: stay off the phone; use marked crosswalks at stop signs or signals; make eye contact and nod or wave at drivers; be extra careful at night; walk with a flashlight and wear a reflective vest at night; and look both ways for cars if you need to briefly walk into the street to maintain social distancing.