Street Smart campaign educates community on rising pedestrian deaths, prevention tips

Virginia

Since 2002, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ street smart program has worked to protect road users by raising awareness about pedestrian and bicycle safety. 

In 2018, pedestrians and bicyclists made up 33 percent of the 306 traffic fatalities in the Washington region. As of Tuesday morning, in Fairfax County, there have been 43 pedestrian-vehicle crashes and 8 fatalities.

With spring here, and summer approaching and more people out walking and biking, local officials came together to launch the spring street smart campaign to educate drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists about safe use of the roadways.

“It’s a regional effort with the Metropolitan Council of Governments. And it’s to preserve the sanctity of human life,” Chief Edwin C. Roessler, with the Fairfax County Police Department said. 

Since 2002, Fairfax County has invested more than $300 million in infrastructure projects including one at the intersection of Lockheed Boulevard and Richmond Highway where the street smart campaign kicked off. 

“This intersection is changing and the good news is we have countdown lights we also have a median that people can be careful and protect themselves in,” Dan Storck, Supervisor of the Mount Vernon District said.  

“It delays the greenlights and it hardens the intersection for both the driver, the pedestrian and the bicyclists,” Chief Roessler added. 

Local police departments increase enforcement through May 10, ticketing drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who break traffic laws. Fines range from $40 to $500. 

Tips for traffic safety from the Street Smart campaign

For drivers

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • When turning, yield to people walking and biking.
  • Look for bicyclists before opening your door.
  • Allow at least 3 feet when passing bikes.
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving.

For pedestrians

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
  • Use the push buttons.
  • Wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Before crossing, look left, right, and left again.
  • Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
  • Watch out for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while you’re crossing the street.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution.

For bicyclists

  • Obey signs and signals.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Ride in a straight line at least 3 feet from parked cars.
  • Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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