Pedestrian Safety (page 2 of 2)
Education must start with parents and schools. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed and distributes “Willie Whistle”, an engaging 7 minute educational program for children.
Police Departments often have a community resource officer who conducts educational programs for children. Training programs should also be offered to senior citizens – both as drivers and as pedestrians.
Another problem is the high frequency of accidents where school crossing guards are the victim. The position of school crossing guard has become one of the most dangerous occupations in local government. Many school crossing guards are senior citizens who are reaching the high risk age because of losses in hearing, eyesight and general mobility. Many of these accidents also occur at times when visibility for both motorists and crossing guards is restricted due to inclement weather.
Each crossing station should also be periodically inspected by the municipal engineer and police department to determine what can be done to improve visibility and slow traffic. It is also critical to consider visibility issues caused by sun glare at different times of the year.
Crossing guard candidates should complete the same medical history and physical examination required for pre-placement examinations of full-time municipal employees. Particular attention should be given to hearing and eyesight. The examination should be repeated every five years up to age 39, every two years up to age 49, and annually after 50. Medical standards for crossing guards can be down loaded from the Safety Institute’s web site.
Materials are available to help police departments train crossing guards. For example, the NJ Safety Institute distributes at no charge the video, “Street Smart is Street Safe” that discusses the unique hazards crossing guards face in local communities and what they should do to address them.
It is also important to educate the public about pedestrian accidents around schools, libraries, playgrounds and other facilities frequented by children. Another video distributed by the NJ Safety Institute at no charge, “School Zone, Danger Zone” speaks directly to school administrators and parents about the problems caused by increased traffic around schools.
Enforcement is the final “E”. Consistent enforcement of traffic and pedestrian safety laws significantly reduces accidents. Your community should have a reputation for strictly enforcing traffic laws such as speeding as well as distracted and impaired driving. Pedestrian decoy programs where police officers dressed as civilians enter crosswalk are also successful.
Stop arms are now nearly universal on school buses and have been highly effective in reducing the number of motorists that fail to stop. However, strict enforcement is essential because children assume motorists will stop. This is why ignoring a stopped school bus must be treated as a very serious traffic offence.
Towns that ban overnight on-street parking in residential zones report substantially fewer mid-block pedestrian accidents. A nighttime ban also results in less daytime parking, reducing the risk that a motorist’s vision will be blocked by parked vehicles. To be effective, these ordinances must be consistently enforced.
Unfortunately, some communities are unable to prohibit overnight parking on municipal streets because many older residential zones were built without adequate off street parking. Obviously, traffic calming and educational programs are more important where on-street parking is permitted.
Vendor-related pedestrian accidents are similar to the mid-block dart out accidents. Since the early 1980s, these accidents have been reduced in New Jersey because trucks are required to have stop arms with flashing lights originally developed for school buses. Under state law vendors must activate the arm when making sales. Motorists are required to stop, but unlike school buses, motorists can then proceed. Each community should adopt an ordinance prohibiting vending on any street with a speed limit over 25 miles per hour as well as arterial roads (specifically named in the ordinance). A model ordinance is on the NJ Safety Institute’s web site.