Street Smart Campaign Urges Increased Attention on Roadways

Nov 7, 2014

Clocks fell back an hour for the end of daylight saving time on Nov. 2, ushering in shorter days and increased safety concerns on D.C.-area roadways. With darkness falling an hour earlier, regional safety officials urge drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to share the road and pay extra attention to one another.

Last year, 65 pedestrians and seven bicyclists died in crashes in the Washington metro region. November and December are of particular concern to safety advocates, since they are the darkest months of the year and, as a result, often see an increase in crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. Nighttime hours are especially dangerous for pedestrians. In 2012, 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. To reduce pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities, D.C.-area transportation officials launched the semi-annual Street Smart public education campaign today, encouraging area residents to be more alert.

Representatives from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, kicked off the fall campaign today at Sherman Avenue and Euclid Street in Washington, D.C.

“Walking and bicycling are becoming more popular throughout the Washington region, and it can be harder for drivers to see people on foot and on bikes when it becomes darker much earlier,” said Matt Brown, Director of the District Department of Transportation.“We all have to be aware of our surroundings and look out for each other as we travel through the area to make sure everyone arrives safely at their destinations. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians need to follow traffic laws, be attentive, and take extra care when visibility is low.”

The Street Smart campaign urges all commuters to avoid distractions such as cell phones, reminds drivers to slow down and yield to those on foot or on bicycles at intersections, and encourages pedestrians and bicyclists to wear light colors or something reflective to be more visible.

Law enforcement in the region will conduct increased enforcement through the month of November, ticketing drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic safety laws. Fines for safety violations range from $40 to $500 for infractions such as failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and jaywalking. In addition, drivers are subject to getting points on their driver records.
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Street Smart Safety Tips

If you’re driving…
• Look twice for people in crosswalks and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists
• Be careful when passing stopped vehicles
• Yield to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections when you're turning
• Allow three feet when passing bicyclists
• Look for cyclists and cars before you open your door
• Slow down and obey the speed limit
• Avoid using your cell phone while driving
 
If you’re walking…
• Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available
• Wait for the “Walk” signal to cross the street
• Before crossing look left, right, and left again
• Be seen! If you’re walking after dark or in bad weather, make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing light clothing or something reflective
• Don’t text while you’re crossing the street
• If you’re on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution
 
If you’re biking…
• Obey all traffic signs and traffic lights
• Ride in the direction of traffic, at least a car door width away from parked cars
• Use hand signals so drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians know what you’re going to do
• Always wear a helmet
• Use lights if you’re riding at times of darkness
• If you’re on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution
 
Laws and regulations differ between jurisdictions. Visit BeStreetSmart.net for information on specific trail guidelines and regulations.

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