“Stop, Wait, Go Slow”
“Be Alert and Don’t Get Hurt”
These are the catch phrase messages of the campaign which the city of East Baltimore hopes will ring in the ears of pedestrians in the Baltimore Metropolitan area as they navigate on the sidewalks and crosswalks of these fair cities. The study, developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, is trying to make those who walk to and from businesses and homes in the area aware of the dangers of distracted walking.
“On average, more than 100 pedestrians are killed every year by a vehicle in Maryland (and nearly 4,500 nationally according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). In Baltimore City alone, 700 pedestrians are hit by a vehicle every year. In most cases, drivers and pedestrians are equally at fault.”
-Johns Hopkins Gazette March 2014
It is bad enough that drivers are distracted, but now with a large proportion of the pedestrian population on their smartphones while walking the streets, it is clear that accidents involving pedestrians in Baltimore and cities nationwide are on the rise. Pedestrian safety awareness is a goal of not only Baltimore officials, but officials in cities like Denver and Seattle which have seen an alarming increase in their pedestrian vs. automobile incidents.
How Can I Be More Aware of My Surroundings As a Pedestrian?
This may sound rather basic, but the messages in the campaign are not only simple but they are simply the truth. “Stop, Wait, Go Slow” and “Be Alert and Don’t Get Hurt” should be in the front of every pedestrian’s mind as they walk. Take a few minutes and search the internet for video content of distracted pedestrians and you will find hundreds of videos to laugh at. The problem is, for every video showing the circus-clown type antics, there is an incident in which someone is seriously hurt or even killed by not paying attention to their surroundings. These pedestrians were not alert and they did get hurt!
A few suggestions to becoming a more aware and safe pedestrian;
– Use a hands-free devise, if you must be on the phone or listen to music
– Move your focus of vision, (just like when you drive) to the sides and to the front
– Smile, it may sound corny but who doesn’t like it when you get a friendly smile?
– Slow Down, like the key messages of the campaign, “STOP, WAIT, GO SLOW”.
Pedestrian accidents can be much more serious than an automobile accident.
It makes sense that an accident in which one of the parties is unprotected and hit by tons of steel and glass will be more serious than an accident which involves two vehicles. A pedestrian who is not paying attention and crosses into vehicle traffic will only cause vehicles to collide with each other if they are lucky, and if they are not lucky, they will be the target of an unsuspecting driver.
How many times are we, as drivers, reminded to “buckle up” in the car, or “Don’t text and drive”? Yet when we are much more vulnerable as a pedestrian, we causally walk and talk, not really paying attention when we should be much more attentive and vigilant for our safety on the sidewalks and crosswalks of our cities.