Many motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians whose evening commutes last week occurred in the daylight will for the next several months be commuting in the glare of the setting sun or after dark thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time and the earlier sunsets that accompany both it and the start of winter.
The Transportation Planning Board's semi-annual "Street Smart" bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign -- set to launch next Monday, November 12, and run through the Thanksgiving holiday -- will use mass media to remind motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians of the region's traffic safety laws and how to stay safe in the darker conditions of the late fall and winter.
Increased enforcement of traffic safety laws by local police and safety officers will also be a cornerstone of the semi-annual campaign, which is carried out in coordination with state and local agencies throughout the Washington region.
TPB Chair Todd Turner kicks off the Spring 2012 "Street Smart" campaign in District Heights, Maryland, on Mar. 28, 2012.
This fall, "Street Smart" will use sponsorships of news and traffic reports on several local radio stations to reach motorists during the high-risk times for bicycle and pedestrian incidents -- late-afternoon and early evening on weeknights, and all day on Saturdays.
The campaign will also reach out to bicyclists and pedestrians in areas with higher-than-normal accident rates through on-the-ground safety events sponsored by local radio stations and local law enforcement. The events will feature safety promotions with giveaways, distribution of printed educational materials, and stepped up enforcement of traffic laws.
Local elected officials and law enforcement personnel will gather on November 14 at the Belmont Ridge Road Crossing of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Ashburn, Virginia, to kick off this fall's campaign. Local television, radio, and print news media are invited to attend the event, which will start at 11:00 a.m.
"Street Smart" started ten years ago, in 2002, as a cooperative effort by local, state, and federal agencies to reduce the number of bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and deaths in the Washington region.
According to data collected by the TPB, there were 68 pedestrian fatalities in the region in 2011 and six reported bicyclist fatalities. Both numbers have remained relatively constant on a year-to-year basis since the late-1990s.
By comparison, the number of motorists and vehicle passengers killed in traffic accidents each year has declined steadily since 2001 -- from 351 to 184. As a result, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have, in recent years, come to represent nearly 30% of all traffic-related deaths, compared to just 19% in 2001.
Beginning this year, "Street Smart" became a truly regional program when the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors committed to the "Street Smart" program a portion of the dues it collects from each of its 22 member jurisdictions. Previously, the program relied mainly on federal funds made available through various state agencies and on voluntary contributions from a handful of local jurisdictions.
The next campaign is tentatively scheduled for April 2013. An advisory group open to representatives of all the contributing jurisdictions, as well as other area stakeholders, is already meeting to plan the spring campaign, which is expected to feature new promotional materials and an extended period of mass media messages to reach target audiences.
With the end of Daylight Saving Time, the Transportation Planning Board, through its "Street Smart" bicycle and pedestrian safety campaign, is working to help motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians avoid being involved in traffic accidents in the darker conditions of the late fall and winter and reduce the overall number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in the Washington region.