In our last post, we discussed the shocking statistics regarding the soaring rate of pedestrian deaths in fatal pedestrian motor vehicle accidents in this country. The number of people dying as pedestrians in these traffic accidents is at record heights and rising at a pace not seen in almost half a century.
Obviously, the next question must be what can be done about changing these statistics and making the roads and streets safer for pedestrians here in Indiana and Illinois, as well as the rest of the United States.
Suggestions from the Experts in the GHSA Report
The latest research report from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association identifies several ways that government and the private sector can work to make things safer for pedestrians and cut down on the number of pedestrian accident deaths.
The experts suggest that infrastructure be updated and built to better protect pedestrians. Things like overpasses, sidewalks, etc.
These suggestions include (see Report page 17):
1. Increasing the Distance between the Pedestrians and Moving Traffic
The GHSA Report suggests building things like refuge islands for pedestrians as well as overpasses and underpasses so the people on foot do not have to move near the motor vehicles as they cross the street.
Another suggestion in the GHSA Report is to add more countdown pedestrian signals and intersections and to add more traffic signals.
2. Make Pedestrians Easier to See
Another suggestion from the expert report is to add more lighting on streets so the people driving can see those on foot more easily. Added to this, the experts suggest placing “RRFBs” (rectangular rapid-flashing beacons) on pedestrian crossing signs.
3. Slow Down the Traffic
Finally, the experts report that more pedestrian deaths happen when the vehicle is moving at a higher rate of speed. So they urge that speed limits be lowered for those portions of streets and roads where there is heavy pedestrian movement.
In tandem with this, they suggest (1) building roundabouts instead of stop signs and traffic lights; (2) adding more road humps or speed bumps in these areas; and (3) adding more sidewalks.
IIHS Wants Advanced Vehicle Design and Technologies
Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) points to the need for new vehicle technologies to lessen the dangers of fatal pedestrian accidents.
According to IIHS, better vehicle design can make pedestrian accidents less likely to be fatal. Their studies show that pedestrians suffer the most severe injuries from things like hoods and windshields. Better motor vehicle design can lessen the impact and the injury.
Additionally, IIHS opines that increased use of new advancements like automatic braking in crash avoidance technologies can reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities.
Dangers of Indiana Pedestrian Death
It’s not news that pedestrian deaths are a serious issue here in our part of the country. And many of us are aware that some roads and highways are especially dangerous for pedestrians here.
For instance, a section of Indiana 933 near South Bend has been notorious for pedestrian fatalities. See, e.g., “Pedestrian deaths on Indiana 933 outpace other roads; Seven killed along route since 2009,” published by the South Bend Tribune on April 11, 2015.
Indianapolis as an example
Last year, traffic statistics for Marion County (Indianapolis) revealed pedestrian accidents had increased by 50% in one year’s time. There was a pedestrian accident death every single month in that one county during the year 2015. A public awareness campaign was begun to try and educate both drivers and pedestrians about this danger.
It’s more complicated here, though. Indianapolis has a streetlight problem, and a sidewalk problem.
As explained by John Tuohy and Tony Cook in an expose published by the Indy Star on September 18, 2016, in “Left In The Dark: Indy’s Deadly Streets,” no new sidewalks have been built in Indianapolis for 20 years. And the city budget saved almost $3 Million in electricity each year by not adding any new streetlights. There haven’t been new streetlights in the Indianapolis budget for over 25 years, according to the Indy Star reporters.
Indianapolis pedestrians are in great danger of being hit and killed by a car or truck if they choose to walk after the sun goes down. The streets are dark and drivers cannot see them.
Keeping Safe As a Pedestrian in Indiana and Illinois
Even with the growing awareness of rising pedestrian deaths and the need for major changes to better protect pedestrians from fatal traffic accidents here in Indiana and Illinois, the danger remains high. Things will hopefully change for the better and walking will become safer for Hoosiers and those living and working in Illinois.
Until that happens, we must all be vigilant to protect those on foot from the danger of pedestrian accident death.
How? From our past discussions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention come these tips that pedestrians can take to protect themselves from a fatal accident where they are hit by a car and killed while walking. They include:
1, Pedestrians Should Make Themselves Ease to See
Walking is dangerous; pedestrians cannot be shy. Make an effort to be seen by traffic.
It’s important and perhaps life-saving to make sure that you stand out from the crowd while walking here in Indiana and Illinois. Especially at night.
How best to make sure the drivers can see you? Carry a flashlight. Get a flashlight app for your phone and use it routinely.
Have reflective clothing and carry things like reflective sashes in your purse or backpack. You can buy an LED light bracelet for your wrist or ankle for less than five bucks online.
2. Cross at the Corner
It’s tempting to cross the street when you know the neighborhood and you’re in a hurry. However, lots of pedestrian accidents happen when the person on foot moves into the middle of the street.
It’s best for anyone on foot to cross the street at the corner. It’s easier for the pedestrian to see the traffic at the intersection.
Pedestrians have to be defensive these days. Never assume the driver can see you. Cross the street at the intersection where you have the most control.
3. Use the Sidewalk and Walk Facing Oncoming Traffic
If there is a sidewalk, then use it. That’s an easy suggestion to follow for pedestrians.
Problem for many pedestrians in our part of the country, however, is that there isn’t a sidewalk to use. Here, the safest thing for the person on foot to do is being alert to the traffic.
Walk on the side of the road as far from the path of traffic as you can. And always face the oncoming traffic, so you can see them and they can see you.
4. Watch Out for the Car Turning Left
Statistics show that more pedestrian accidents happen when the car or truck is turning left at an intersection or entrance (to the apartment complex, grocery store, movie theatre, etc.).
At any driveway, entrance, alleyway, etc., where it is possible for a car or truck to turn left from moving traffic into this area, always stop and look for an approaching vehicle. This applies to much more of the pedestrian’s path than the intersection, but it is important to do at street corners, too.
Pedestrian accidents are a real danger to those of us living and working in Indiana and Illinois. Let’s be careful out there!