Spike in pedestrian traffic crashes prompts push for new safety efforts; Why you should stay alert

Local

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — There’s been a rise in crashes involving pedestrians over the last year. According to Jenny Kramer, Kansas’ Bike-Ped coordinator, the state had jumped from 18 incidents in 2019 to 46 in 2020.

The Kansas Department of Transportation said incidents involving pedestrians usually occur while crossing busy roads, especially around school areas or while crossing the street at night.

Kramer said that the state is still looking into the reason behind the increase. However, new initiatives are underway to make roads and traffic crossings safer and more available, especially rural communities.

“What we see a lot are communities that don’t have enough safe crossings. There isn’t a pedestrian symbol for them to use,” Kramer said.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2019, there were 6,237 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States, accounting for 20% of all traffic-related deaths. KDOT officials said vehicle safety for occupants has improved. However, pedestrians and other vehicle nonoccupant fatalities have increased 4% from 2010 to 2019, demonstrating these individuals are still vulnerable as ever.

“The emphasis areas really are about being aware of pedestrians, driving the speed limit, and making sure communities are designing their communities with the safety of pedestrians in mind,” said Kramer.

October marks National Pedestrian Safety Month, and transportation officials are raising awareness and urging people to stay aware of their surroundings while crossing the street.

Topeka resident Laura Politi said she’s taken extra steps to stay safe.

“If I walk during the evening, I’ll wear bright clothes, so I’ll make sure that I’m visible. I’m always aware of my surroundings,” she said.

For more information and to learn more about KDOT’s Bicycle & Pedestrian program, click here.

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