As more and more people are getting seriously injured and killed in pedestrian accidents (read our last post for details), it’s becoming more and more urgent to try and find ways to combat the danger of serious pedestrian accidents here in Indiana and Illinois.
What’s causing more people, walking along or standing near streets, roads, or highways, to be hit by cars, trucks — even buses and big rigs — in our part of the country? What can be done to fix this?
Bad Road Design: Sometimes Pedestrians Have No Choice But to Risk the Danger of an Accident
One answer, at least to some of these pedestrian accident dangers, lies in how the roads themselves are designed. If the drivers cannot see pedestrians clearly, then there is a higher risk of people getting hit by motor vehicles.
Merrillville Road Design: Example of a Pedestrian Danger Zone
For instance, just last week there was an article in the NWI Times discussing the dangerous design that exists where U.S. 30 and I-65 cross paths over in Merrillville. According to transportation experts, this intersection is an example of bad road planning because it has a huge amount of high speed traffic, but no place for pedestrians to safely maneuver through it.
There’s no sidewalks, for instance. Ditto no crosswalk lights or signs — or a crosswalk in any form.
And it’s a huge piece of roadway: there’s a dozen (12) lanes in parts of this road design. If you’ve shopped at Southlake Mall, then you know how busy this place can be.
According to traffic accident statistics for this one Indiana intersection, 26% of the motor vehicle accidents there involve someone riding a bicycle or a pedestrian who is hit on foot while trying to get around this big intersection.
Twenty-six percent — that’s over a fourth of all the accidents in that area!
And yet, people not only need to walk here (there are lots of people who work in this area) but lots of businesses are inviting people to come (e.g., Southlake Mall), and people live here, too (apartments and more). Sometimes, pedestrians have no choice but to try and get from Point A to Point B despite the design flaws of the U.S. 30 – Interstate 65 exchange.
So, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is looking into ways to alter this busy intersection to make the area safer for pedestrians. That’s a good thing.
And it’s also a big example of why pedestrian accidents happen here in our neck of the woods.
State and County Agencies at Work to Make Walking Safer for Pedestrians in Indiana and Illinois
The Merrillville study isn’t the only work being done by local and state authorities to try and make pedestrians safer here in Indiana and Illinois. Efforts are underway to create safer environments for those walking to work, to school, to shop, or just for the exercise or enjoyment of a daily stroll.
There’s the Indiana Ped, Pedal, and Paddle Committee’s efforts to create safer areas here, for instance.
Marion County Targeting Danger Areas for Pedestrians and Need for Sidewalks
State government response to the dangers of pedestrian accidents here is moving forward. For instance, there’s the effort reported over in Marion County by the IndyStar. County officials there are dealing with the reality that lots of places don’t provide sidewalks alongside streets and roadways, forcing pedestrians to walk as best they can alongside moving vehicles and traffic racing along at various speeds.
In Marion County, according to Health by Design as reported by the IndyStar, officials have targeted three spots as particularly dangerous for pedestrians in their area:
- Meridian and Illinois Streets from 14th to 34th streets, including extended portions of 16th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 32nd streets
- East 38th Street from the State Fairgrounds to Sherman Avenue.
- West 34th and 38th Streets, from Moller Road west to I-465, including portions of High School and Moller roads.
Marion County is working to help pedestrians there by doing things like adding sidewalks alongside their roads. Good thing, right?
Fatal Pedestrian Accidents are a Growing National Problem
It’s not just state agencies that are trying to find ways to make life safer for pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) have also joined in efforts to combat pedestrian accidents. Together, they are financing grants for cities across the country to help pay for things like correcting bad road design.
“Whether you live in a city or a small town, and whether you drive a car, take the bus or ride a train, at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian,” explained Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We all have a reason to support pedestrian safety, and now, everyone has new tools to help make a difference.”
Pedestrian Accidents in Indiana and Illinois
Right now, it’s dangerous to walk along an Indiana street or Illinois roadway in too many locations — it’s a real and significant danger to all of us. We need to be aware of this danger, as both drivers and pedestrians — and we need to make sure our kids and loved ones know about the risks, as well.
While better road design and providing more sidewalks, crosswalk lights, and other safety features will help lower pedestrian accidents in the future, today the dangers of a loved one being seriously hurt or killed in a pedestrian accident are high in Indiana and Illinois. Too high.
Which means that drivers need to be aware and attune to the reality that pedestrians are going to be walking as best they can near places like shopping malls, apartment complexes, schools, and businesses. The fact there is a bad road design is not a sufficient excuse for a driver to hit a pedestrian and escape liability, although it’s a defense to be expected from them and their insurance adjusters.
Pedestrians also need to be vigilant as they walk near any kind of roadway. Traffic accidents between a human being on foot and a car or truck at any speed are much too horrific for any pedestrian to dismiss, even if there doesn’t seem to be much danger at the time. Be careful out there!