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The City Journals

Zero Fatalities installs sidewalk clings to encourage pedestrian safety

Feb 01, 2018 07:05AM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Sidewalk tags to remind people to pay attention. (Photo/UDOT)

Tragedy recently struck a Kearns family when a young wife and mother was hit and killed by a Granite School District bus as she attempted to cross the street in West Valley City on Jan. 11. 

In December, another family lost their mother as she crossed the street to attend the Festival of Trees in Sandy. A 53-year-old man was hit and killed while attempting to catch up with a bus in Taylorsville and a 19-year-old man had his life cut short in November when an alleged drunk driver hit him as he walked to McDonalds near his home. 

These are only a fraction of the stories of devastation that auto-pedestrian accidents can have on families and the community. But the Utah Department of Transportation and Zero Fatalities, a state run program that focuses on eliminating fatalities on Utah roadways, is finding ways to help prevent future tragedies from happening. 

Historically, December is the second deadliest month for pedestrian deaths in Utah. Together, UDOT and Zero Fatalities decided to start a campaign that would help people pay more attention when they are walking.  The installation of outdoor advertisements is all part of the “Heads Up” pedestrian safety campaign being done at select locations around the state of Utah. 

The goal is to remind people to stay alert when walking. 

Twenty sidewalk clings were placed from Ogden to Provo along with retro-reflective advertisements at 50 bus shelters throughout Salt Lake City. UDOT selected intersections with high pedestrian traffic and crashes.

“Unfortunately, we see far too many pedestrian deaths, especially this time of year,” said UDOT Traffic and Safety Director Robert Miles. “We hope these messages will remind Utahns to be more aware and more careful when walking close to traffic.”

There are two different sidewalk clings. One reads, “The driver didn’t see the pedestrian. The pedestrian didn’t see the driver. Watch for cars, they might not see you.” The second cling reads, “Your life is in danger. Watch for cars, they might not see you.”

“Pedestrian deaths are 100 percent preventable,” Miles said. “But to prevent pedestrian fatalities, drivers and pedestrians must work together.”

Pedestrian fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate in Utah and across the nation. In 2017, 43 pedestrians have been killed on Utah roads, already surpassing the total number of pedestrian deaths in 2016.  In 2016, 1,006 pedestrians were struck by motor vehicles; 898 were injured and 39 were killed. Pedestrians accounted for 1 percent of individuals in crashes and 14 percent of deaths. The 49 pedestrian deaths in 2015 were the highest in Utah since 1987. 

Statistics show 58 percent of drivers in pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes were under 40 years. 

Leading Contributing Factors of Drivers in Pedestrian Crashes : 

1. Failed to Yield Right of Way (36 percent) 

2. Hit and Run (11 percent) 

3. Driver Distraction (8 percent) 

4. Improper Backing (4 percent) 

5. Speed Too Fast (4 percent) 

Of the pedestrians in crashes, 51 percent were under 25 years of age. 

Leading Contributing Factors of Pedestrians in Crashes:

1. Improper Crossing (12 percent) 

2. Darting (9 percent) 

3. Not Visible (6 percent)  

Fifty-five percent of pedestrians had no contributing factor in the crash. 

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of drivers who hit pedestrians were turning. Drivers need to watch for pedestrians before turning. 

In Utah, historical crash data shows pedestrian fatalities increase during the fall and winter months. December is the second deadliest month, second to October, for pedestrian fatalities.

Zero Fatalities offers these simple tips to preventing an auto-pedestrian crash:

•Drivers need to remember to always be on the lookout for pedestrians, always yield right of way to pedestrians and never speed, drive while distracted, drowsy or impaired in anyway.

•Pedestrians need to remember to never assume the right of way and stay alert, cross at designated crosswalks and adhere to traffic signs and signals, be visible by wearing reflective materials when possible and when doing everything right, still assume drivers can’t see you.

Sidewalk signs were placed in various locations throughout Clearfield, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Kaysville, Layton, Lehi, Midvale, Ogden, Orem, Provo, Salt Lake City, South Jordan and West Valley. 

 Bus shelter location signs were placed around West Valley City, Taylorsville, Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, Murray, Midvale, Provo, Sunset, Roy and South Ogden.