News Release

Rising Pedestrian Fatalities Targeted by Street Smart Campaign

Mar 7, 2008

Fairfax County, VA – With pedestrian fatalities on the rise in recent years, leaders from the District, Maryland and Virginia today launched the Street Smart pedestrian safety campaign. Kicking off the effort on the busy Route 7 corridor in Fairfax County, the regionwide effort combines stepped up law enforcement targeted to areas with high numbers of pedestrian-related incidents and public awareness efforts to promote safer behavior behind the wheel and at the curb.  

With 87 deaths, pedestrian fatalities reached a 10-year high in 2006 (the latest year for which complete data is available), according to a new study by Inova Regional Trauma Center. The Inova report shows that an average of one pedestrian is killed every 4.4 days and nearly six pedestrians are injured every day.

Speaking at the event, Gerald Connolly, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said, “If you are a driver, you need to drive like your life depends on it. If you are a pedestrian, you need to cross like your life depends on it. Virtually every pedestrian death and injury can be prevented if both sides of the crash equation – drivers and pedestrians – do a better job of looking out for each other.”

Owing to their near-complete vulnerability when struck by vehicles, pedestrians account for fully 20 percent of individuals killed on the roads in the Washington region.

Galvanized by heightened concern about pedestrian safety, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) will host a Traffic Safety Workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 29. The goal of this workshop is to gather policy makers and working professionals from around the region to address the causes of pedestrian deaths and injuries, and come to collaborative solutions.

Pedestrian-detecting technology also is being employed to boost safety. Demonstrated at the event, a new technology is being adopted by the District of Columbia that detects human movement, verbally instructs pedestrians (in English and Spanish) to activate a crossing signal and then tells pedestrians when it is safe to cross. High-intensity flashing lights let drivers know pedestrians are crossing. The device will be installed at locations where a high number of pedestrian incidents occur.  

Across the region, police departments will be conducing waves of increased pedestrian safety enforcement this spring, including Fairfax County police officers stepping up enforcement along Route 7, Route 1 and other corridors that experience a high incidence of pedestrian crashes. 

“We not only will be cracking down on people not following the laws that protect our pedestrians, but also educating drivers and pedestrians on how they can help make our streets safer for everyone,” said Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier. In the District of Columbia, where the concentration of walkers, bikers and drivers is the highest in the region, fully half of highway deaths are pedestrians.    

Sponsored by COG and the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), the Street Smart public awareness and enforcement campaign is aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths in the Washington metropolitan area. The campaign uses creative radio advertising in English and Spanish to reach drivers, while targeting pedestrians through outdoor and transit advertising on bus shelters and bus side. In addition, law enforcement and local, county and state agencies will be distributing handouts and tip cards to further spread awareness and educate drivers and pedestrians.

“This campaign concentrates on raising public awareness of dangerous behaviors, while educating drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on how they can be safer on the roads in the Washington region,” said Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. “Ensuring pedestrian safety is every person’s responsibility.”


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