As the U.S. Department of Transportation establishes October as the first-ever National Pedestrian Safety Month, Caltrans is refining its data-driven programs to enhance pedestrian safety and reduce injury and death on California roadways.
Pedestrian deaths have increased nationwide over the last decade. In California, pedestrians are 37 times more likely to be injured in a collision than any other roadway user. Between 2008 and 2017, pedestrian-related incidents accounted for 19 percent of all collisions resulting in death or serious injury.
“At least two pedestrians or cyclists lose their lives on California’s transportation system each day – a number we refuse to accept or normalize,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “Safety remains our top priority and the department will work diligently until the trend is reversed. Data-driven augmentations to safety features and a recent $100 million investment dedicated to pedestrian-focused infrastructure improvements will help enhance safety for those who walk and bike on California roadways.”
Caltrans is enhancing pedestrian safety measures at high-risk locations based on traffic collision data. The department uses a first-of-its-kind pedestrian safety toolbox that includes 47 countermeasures to enhance pedestrian safety on the state highway system. Caltrans investigates high-risk locations to determine the best safety improvement in the toolkit. Specific toolbox improvements include:
• Signal timing enhancement and extended pedestrian crossing times.
• Intersection and roadway design changes, such as sidewalks, curb extensions, and roundabouts or raised intersections that provide enhanced pedestrian safety in high traffic locations.
• New pedestrian signs and markings, including high-visibility crosswalks, advanced stop and yield markings, or “yield to pedestrian” signs.
Caltrans is already implementing these safety measures and expects to identify further safety improvements by September 2021.
In addition, the California Transportation Commission recently approved $100 million for projects that promote active transportation options, such as:
• 310 miles of new and repaired bike lanes;
• Installation and repair of nearly 50 miles of sidewalk;
• Nearly 3,000 new crosswalks;
• 178 transit stop improvements, such as bus shelters.
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is also providing more than $8 million in funding for programs dedicated to the safe and equal access of roads for pedestrians, including:
• Complete Streets Safety Assessments to assist local agencies statewide in identifying and implementing infrastructure improvements to pedestrian safety and accessibility.
• Community Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Training programs that encourage local residents in underserved communities to develop a community action plan to improve walking and biking safety.
• Coordinate Walking Tours and education outreach with health care providers and senior centers. Focus on high-collision areas for older adult pedestrians and measures to improve safe travel for older adults.
• Develop “walking school busses” with groups that walk with students to school and educate students on traffic rules and best safety practices.
National Pedestrian Safety Month is an important reminder that we are all pedestrians at one time or another and that we all play a role in protecting those who walk on California’s transportation system.
Tips for drivers: Slow down on busy streets and intersections. Avoid distractions like cell phones, eating, using in-dash touch screens, or deep conversations with passengers.
Be extra careful when approaching crosswalks. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
Avoid blocking crosswalks when making a right-hand turn. Turn headlights on and slow down at night when pedestrians are more difficult to see.
Tips for pedestrians: Stay off the phone, especially when crossing the street. Always try to use marked crosswalks, preferably at stop signs or signals.
Make eye contact and nod or wave at drivers. A quick nod or wave is an easy way to let a driver know you see them, and they see you. Be careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when you’re more difficult to see.
Walk with a flashlight and wear a reflective vest at night to make it easier for drivers to see you. Remember to look both ways for cars if you need to briefly walk into the street to maintain social distancing on sidewalks.
“Behavior change goes hand in hand with infrastructure improvements,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Safe habits by drivers and pedestrians complement a transportation system that is designed with pedestrian travel in mind.”