Spike in pedestrian traffic crashes prompts push for new safety efforts; Why you should stay alert

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA (KSNT) — There’s been a rise in crashes involving pedestrians over the course of last year.

According to Kansas’ Bike-Ped Coordinator, Jenny Kramer, the state’s seen a jump from 18 incidents in 2019 to 46 in 2020.

“What we see a lot are communities that don’t have enough safe crossings. There isn’t a pedestrian symbol for them to use,” Kramer said.

October marks National Pedestrian Safety Month, and transportation officials, like Kramer, are trying to raise awareness, and urging people to stay aware of their surroundings while crossing the street.

Kramer told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Tuesday that the state is still looking into the reason behind the increase. However, new initiatives are underway to make roads and traffic crossings safer and more available, especially in rural communities.

The Kansas Department of Transportation, KDOT, official said traffic incidents can usually occur while crossing busy roads, especially around school areas, or while crossing the street at night.

Topeka resident Laura Politi said while keeping up with the “crazy” flow of traffic in the city, she’s taken extra steps to stay safe.

“If I walk during the evening I’ll wear bright clothes, so I’ll make sure that I’m visible. I’m always aware of my surroundings,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2019, there were 6,237 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States, accounting for 20% of all traffic-related deaths. KDOT officials said vehicle safety for occupants has greatly improved. However, pedestrians and other vehicle nonoccupant fatalities have increased 4% from 2010 to 2019, demonstrating these individuals are still vulnerable as ever.

And Kramer said for people who do not take the necessary steps to stay safe and alert on the road, crossing the street can put them in grave danger.

“The emphasis areas really are about being aware of pedestrians, driving the speed limit, and making sure communities are designing their communities with the safety of pedestrians in mind.”

For more information and to learn more about KDOT’s Bicycle & Pedestrian program, click here.

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