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Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 10:39 AM UTC

Alert: The head of Maryland's Highway Safety Office - improving pedestrian safety?

Biking in MarylandFrom Maryland by Vernon Betkey, Jr. , the head of Maryland's Highway Safety Office as well as Governors Highway Safety Association chairman
Nationally, pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 percent [in Maryland that's over 20%] of overall traffic deaths, a small but significant portion. Given that we have made so much progress in this area, GHSA is concerned to see this reversal. One factor may be the increased distractions for both pedestrians and drivers. Anyone who travels in a busy city has seen countless pedestrians engrossed in conversation or listening to music while crossing a busy street. Just as drivers need to focus on driving safely, pedestrians need to focus on walking safely – without distractions.

Now compare:

From North Carolina:
Rapid urbanization, a weakened economy, and growing numbers of vulnerable populations (including older pedestrians and socio-economically disadvantaged groups) without other transportation options have challenged the State to keep up with issues specific to pedestrian safety and mobility.
From Nevada:
Like many other places in the southwest, the road network in Clark County consists of arterials that are designed as six lanes with intersections jumping to eight lanes. In urban area that bisects freeways or beltways, intersection can be as large as 12 lanes! Streets are flat with wide lanes that are comfortable for speed and there are few places marked for pedestrians to cross the street. On major arterial streets the norm is to have nowhere for up to a mile stretch for pedestrians to safely cross the street.


Maryland has gone from a ranking of #20 to the currently 4th highest pedestrian fatality rate in the Nation. I really don't think campaigns like below are working. (And zebra striping crosswalks would not hurt either, two parallel lines and that's it, sheesh.)
image

So I am joining with Greater Greater Washington and asking those who would like to see a change for the better please write Betkey, his boss Neil Pedersen, and Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley -- vbetkey@sha.state.md.us,NPedersen@sha.state.md.us,bswaim-staley@mdot.state.md.us

[Note: I rewrote GGW's article to put a different spin on it. So it might be worth reading David's article as well.]

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2 comments

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
From LAB: "According to the Financial Management Information System, only six states (CA, FL, NJ, OH, VA, WA) obligated federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds to projects categorized as `

Repeat: Maryland did not use HSIP funds for bicycle and pedestrians safety.

http://networkedblogs.com/dgjL1
[Our letter:]
I am appalled by Maryland's current pedestrian fatality ranking by FARS being the 4th highest in the Nation along with Vernon Betkey, Jr. statement in GHSA press release:
Nationally, pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 percent [in Maryland that's over 20%] of overall traffic deaths, a small but significant portion. Given that we have made so much progress in this area, GHSA is concerned to see this reversal. One factor may be the increased distractions for both pedestrians and drivers. Anyone who travels in a busy city has seen countless pedestrians engrossed in conversation or listening to music while crossing a busy street. Just as drivers need to focus on driving safely, pedestrians need to focus on walking safely – without distractions.
I am totally unaware of any study that even hints that those are the major problems on the pedestrian side. This is a very shameful accusation as there should be nothing hazardous for pedestrains to engage in these activities while lawfully crossing a street. So please let me point out that BECAUSE of unsafe driver behavior pedestrains safety is put at risk. What's next? Homicide prevention campaign of "Don't stand in front of a gun, because it's dangerous"? 

As a sometime pedestrian as well as countless comments given to me let me emphatically state that there is a high failure rate of cars yielding to pedestrains in crosswalks along with harassment of honking and intimidation.

It is imperative that safety officials understand the cyclical nature of the problem. Drivers don't stop for peds in the crosswalk. Peds now cross mid-block because it feels safer. Peds now are constantly yielding to cars when crossing in this manner (You probably passed a ped within inches while they were standing on the center line and you probably thought nothing of it.) Drivers are now trained that peds yield to them. So now drivers do not stop for peds in crosswalks.

To date no safety program has addressed this issue even remotely well. We need to put a lot more emphases on § 21-504. Drivers to exercise due care [and not hit pedestrains]  and not on some made up antithesis of this.

Even Secretary LaHood knows right-on-red are hazardous to pedestrains and had them eliminated when a employee was struck outside the offices in DC. I see no such effort to eliminate right-on-red here in Maryland. This is not following best engineering practices for pedestrains.

TR § 2-602 requires the best engineering standards in accommodating pedestrains. You mean to tell me that two barley visible lines are "the best engineering practices" for marking a crosswalk? By a freeway exit? Where a 17 year old girl was killed. Seriously??? Lets get some more zebra stripes or big fat bars for crosswalks. Too many of our roads look like they are for cars only and everything else is trespassing. This has to change!

Lets do some studies, survives, experimental designs, anything to help change the status quo. Let's think about ways to legalizing human behavior rather then requiring people to act like robots.

Clever Crosswalk Squashes Jaywalking, by Making it Legal
We need to get ped accommodations into the 21century! Studies have shown on-demand traffic signals have a higher compliance among drivers. What makes you think that pedestrains are different and will readily accept a long prequeue delay before the lights start to do anything? Failure to treat pedestrains as equal road users is contributing to our high fatality rate. We need to put a end to to thinking that fast road users need to go faster and should not experience even the slightest delay, while on the other hand slow road users will not mind going even slower and have no problem with delays and obstacles each and every block.

And please no more safety campaigns that blend in with stories from the Onion.
 New 'Get The F*** Outta The Road' Program Aims To Increase Pedestrian Safety

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