Speeding drivers continue to be a primary factor in deadly crashes with people walking and biking. Higher vehicle speeds are strongly associated with a greater likelihood of pedestrian crashes and increase the severity of injuries and possibility of death, according to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
In 2017, preliminary data indicate that 79 pedestrians and 6 cyclists were killed in the Washington, D.C. region, indicating an overall increase from the previous year. The uptick in the number of fatalities concerns leaders across the region.
“These deaths and injuries are preventable,” said Jeff Marootian, District of Columbia Department of Transportation Director. “Research tells us that if we can get people to slow down, we can save lives. Increased enforcement, engineering improvements, and raising public awareness are important steps that we are taking to reduce the number of deaths on our streets.”
Street Smart, a pedestrian and cyclist safety program created in 2002 by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), offers safety tips to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries in the D.C. metro area. Aimed at getting drivers to slow down, Street Smart’s spring campaign launched April 17 with new transit ads, grassroots outreach, and partnerships with law enforcement.
Combined, pedestrian and cyclist deaths account for more than 27 percent of all traffic fatalities in the region. Vehicle speed, time of day, distraction, and alcohol are contributing factors in pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries, according to GHSA.
During the Street Smart campaign, which runs through May 13, law enforcement officers in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia will be stepping up enforcement of traffic safety laws that protect people walking and biking.
“If the threat of injury or death isn’t enough to inspire people to slow down and obey traffic safety laws, our police officers will be giving out extra reminders in the form of a ticket,” said Assistant Chief Jeffery Carroll of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Law enforcement will ticket drivers who disobey the speed limit or fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. The effort also encourages pedestrians to take the time to cross safely by using crosswalks and waiting for the walk signal. Violations can be costly—up to $500—and drivers can have points added to their records.
MORE: Visit BeStreetSmart.net for more information on the campaign and safety tips for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.