WASHINGTON, D.C. – Safety experts warn that the end of daylight saving time this month will bring darker evening commuting hours and greater risks for pedestrians and bicyclists.
That’s why Washington-area transportation officials are urging all drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to take simple steps to exercise caution, watch out for each other, and obey traffic laws.
Against a backdrop of 75 pairs of gently worn white shoes -- one for each pedestrian or bicyclist who perished last year in the Washington region -- representatives from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia kicked off their biannual Street Smart safety awareness campaign at the United Medical Center in southeast Washington, D.C., near where two pedestrians were killed last year.
Now through November 27, regional law enforcement also will be stepping up their efforts to identify and ticket drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who break traffic laws. “Whether you’re driving, walking, or riding a bike, if you break laws designed to keep people safe, you can expect a reminder in the form of an expensive ticket,” said Chief Hank Stawinski of Prince George’s County Police Department. Violations such as failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, speeding, running red lights, or jaywalking can result in fines up to $500 and having points added to your driver record.
Nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2015 were at their highest levels in twenty years. The agency also has reported that 72 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during darkness, and one in four pedestrians was killed in an incident that occurred between 6 and 9 pm.
“With daylight saving time ending this weekend, it will be dark during our evening rush hour, making visibility a critical safety issue. Like Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Vision Zero initiative, the Street Smart campaign reminds everyone to watch out for each other on our region’s streets,” said Leif Dormsjo, Director of the District Department of Transportation. “It’s especially important for drivers to slow down and be on the look-out for people walking and biking who are the most vulnerable to serious injuries or death in traffic crashes.”
Last year in November and December, crashes involving pedestrians in the region spiked with more than 550 incidents, 21 percent higher than average.
The Street Smart campaign offers common sense safety tips for all travelers. To learn more about Street Smart, visit BeStreetSmart.net and follow us on twitter.com/COGStreetSmart.