by Ashley Bautista, Community Outreach Ventura Police
Thousands of people each year are killed on America’s roadways, and many of those deaths could have been prevented. In fact, in 2016, 16 percent (5,987) of all roadway-related deaths were pedestrian fatalities. Tragically, in a crash between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is far more likely to be killed or injured. From 2015 to 2016, there was a startling 9-percent increase in fatalities, which is the highest number of pedestrian deaths per year since 1990.
As a community, there are simple steps everyone can take to reduce the number of these tragedies each year. Keeping our roads safe is a shared responsibility.
With driving comes enormous responsibility. Getting to a doctor’s appointment, work, or school won’t be important if you strike a pedestrian while driving there. Always look for pedestrians whenever and wherever you are driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, the majority (74%) of these fatalities occurred when it was dark outside and outside an intersection (72%).
Driving at the posted speed limit, or even slower based on conditions and focusing on the road, instead of an electronic device, also gives the driver more time to “see, identify, and react” in time to brake for pedestrians. In 2016, 26 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., and in many places that means its dark, or getting dark, outside. When a driver “sees” something up ahead, they are able to slow down and “identify” what it is. Because the driver can “see and identify,” they are then able to “react” by applying the brakes.
While it is the responsibility of the driver to stay alert and aware of their surroundings, there are also actions the pedestrian can take to stay safe, like being predictable and using crosswalks or intersections if possible and walking on a sidewalk or path when one is available. Pedestrians should also remember to “dress for the occasion.” If you are out during the day, wear bright colors, and at night, be sure to wear something with reflective materials especially on parts that move (like your arms, legs and feet) or carry a flashlight. In short, make yourself visible. Just because you can see a motorist does not mean he or she can see you; the driver may be distracted or even have the sun in their eyes. If you cannot make eye contact or do not see the driver slow down for you, just wait until the vehicle passes, even if you have the right of way. If you have multiple lanes to cross, slow and watch for traffic at each lane.
Both drivers and pedestrians should always keep road safety habits in mind, too, like not using electronic devices or drinking or using drugs while driving or walking because they can impair judgment. Everyone who uses our roads has a duty to drive safely, which, in turn, helps everyone get to their destination unharmed.
To reduce traffic safety risks to pedestrians, safety should always be top-of-mind for those traveling on the road and near the road. Let’s be safe Ventura!
Contact Ashley Bautista, Community Outreach Ventura Police 805-339-4317 with any police related questions.