Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Delaware, yielding to pedestrians is a joke

Photo by John Jankowski, Delaware Online
Excerpt from USA Today:

These are the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians.

1. Delaware
  • Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.94
  • Total pedestrian fatalities: 27 (15th lowest)
  • Total traffic fatalities: 114 (5th lowest)
Nowhere in America was it more dangerous to cross the street than in Delaware, where nearly three pedestrians died in traffic accidents per 100,000 residents in 2012. While Delaware led the nation in pedestrian fatalities in 2012, the chance of being killed walking in the state has fluctuated considerably. There were just 27 pedestrian fatalities in 2012, so a slight change in the number of major accidents, or a particularly safe year, will have a large impact on the state's fatality rate. Unsurprisingly, the pedestrian death rate fell by nearly 20% in 2010, but spiked by nearly 50% the following year. Nevertheless, pedestrians seem to be more especially vulnerable in Delaware. A pedestrian was the victim of nearly one in every five fatal traffic-related accidents, a greater proportion than in all but two other states. [Full article ...]

Poster's note:  The last thing in the world any State wants is the #1 spot on this list. Delaware, however, is at a disadvantage in this survey, as our numbers can fluctuate wildly given a relatively low population.

Regardless of this horrible statistic, we still give kudos to DelDOT for actively assessing major corridors for pedestrian safety, and installing crosswalks (and bike lanes) at known dangerous intersections. Sadly, even with these improvements, many such roads still lack safe infrastructure for the non-motorized.

A largely forgotten issue includes driver education and enforcement. Where we have crosswalks, drivers routinely ignore them, and blow through them even when pedestrians are present or waiting to cross. Delaware carries virtually no penalty for these potentially deadly actions, and enforcement is rare, if at all.

Above: It's as though users of the Pomeroy Trail in Newark don't even exist at the crossing of Wyoming Avenue. Here, we see a bicyclist that is clearly visible and waiting to cross the road in a wide zebra striped crosswalk, yet motorists continue through despite having more than adequate time to stop. The "Don't Join the Walking Dead" campaign should also focus on driver education and enforcement, and include hefty fines for crosswalk incursions that are commensurate with other states that score far better in pedestrian safety.

In progressive States like Massachusetts, it is an entirely different story. Motorists rarely fail to stop (never mind yield), even as a pedestrian approaches a crosswalk. Better enforcement and fines of up to $200 go a long way toward increased safety and respect of trail and pathway users. This, in turn, results in fewer injuries and fatalities, and promotes a culture of awareness and responsibility.
See also: Why crosswalks are so dangerous in Delaware

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