October is pedestrian safety month. Here at Greater Mercer TMA, we promote safety among pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers all year round, but in October we strive to go the extra mile in promoting pedestrian safety. Why is pedestrian safety so important and why should you care about it? If you think about it, on most days, we are all pedestrians at some point. Pedestrian fatalities and injuries remain an issue nationwide. In order to make changes to this statistic, we all need to come together to increase awareness about pedestrian safety as a shared responsibility.
This is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the right to walk safely and remind drivers of their responsibility to stay alert for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable people on the roads.
In 2020, 6,516 pedestrians were killed in the United States. That equates to about one person every 81 minutes. An estimated 55,000 were injured in 2020, and 173 pedestrians were killed in New Jersey alone. Among these statistics, the highest fatality rates were observed among Black or African American people, about 42%. Older adults, African Americans, Indigenous people, and people walking in low-income communities, are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes.
Fortunately, these statistics are not being brushed off or ignored. Ending traffic fatalities across the country is a top priority for the U.S Department of Transportation. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making significant investments in roadway safety.
In January 2022, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which is focused on working with stakeholders to reduce traffic fatalities.
“We live in an era when it is safer to fly in an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground than it is to walk down the street,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This National Pedestrian Safety Month, we must redouble our efforts to address the urgent national crisis on our nation’s roads, and do everything in our power to keep pedestrians safe.”
Locally, a recent focus by the NJ Department of Transportation has been improving pedestrian safety on Route 129 in Trenton with the start of a Pedestrian Safety Improvement project along the state-controlled Route 129 corridor. The project includes both short-term and long-term improvements and solutions that will improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists at three signalized intersections on Route 129, Lalor Street, Cass Street, and Hamilton Avenue. Learn more about this here.
Prior to the safety work that is being done on Route 129, GMTMA led the pedestrian road safety audit along Route 129 at each of the intersections and prepared a report of the findings. A pedestrian road safety audit is a recommended step for municipalities to conduct to start addressing road safety issues.
Here are some simple practices that go a long way to reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries:
- Avoid distractions while driving. If your focus isn’t on the road, you might miss what’s right in front of you and cause a crash. Driver inattention is the leading cause of fatal crashes in New Jersey. Driver
- Drivers must also come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights, and always look for people crossing before turning.
- Drivers must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk, but shall also yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- Slow down. Traveling 5 mph over the speed limit may not seem like a big deal, but it can mean the difference between life and death if you crash into a pedestrian.
- We also encourage pedestrians to cross where they can be seen — in crosswalks and at intersections.