September dedicated to pedestrian safety

September dedicated to pedestrian safety

Photo Credits: QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE

California Office of Traffic Safety shares statistics, top tips for safety

Second-year cognitive science major James Spargo recalled a particularly upsetting bicycle accident on the streets of Davis: “I saw a car anticipate a green light and clip the back of a bicycle,” Spargo said. “Luckily both parties were unharmed, but it could have been much worse.”  

For UC Davis students, September often marks the end of summer vacation and either the dreaded or long-awaited start of the school year, yet this month has another, equally important significance for students: Pedestrian Safety Month in the state of California. 

In an attempt to bring awareness to the rising rates of pedestrian deaths, a legislative measure passed in 2015 designates September as the official month for pedestrian safety. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) partners with several different law enforcement and transportation agencies to promote this month. 

“[Pedestrian deaths are] a big issue that has affected a lot of people, numbers are trending the wrong way [and] as other types of traffic deaths have gone down pedestrian deaths have climbed dramatically over the last decade,” said Timothy Weisberg, a public information officer at the California OTS.

Davis is a high foot-traffic community, with thousands of individuals walking on campus or downtown each day. This month’s theme is essential to keep in mind in order to ensure safety within the Davis community. 

Numbers indicate that 6,000 deaths occurred on a national basis in 2018 — a record number. Similarly, in California in 2017, approximately 858 pedestrians were killed, accounting for a quarter of all traffic-related deaths. 

Several campaigns have been launched to raise awareness in an attempt to curb these numbers such as “Go Safely California,” an information campaign consisting of social media posts, public service announcements and billboard messages that encourage safety as a top priority for people on the go. 

The OTS started another campaign, “Pedestrians Don’t Have Armor,” in 2016 to educate drivers on being more aware of their surroundings inside and outside their vehicles. 

These educational campaigns encourage people to take a stand against deadly behaviors while driving, such as texting and driving under the influence. 

Edita Astaguna, a second-year economics major, commented on the importance of pedestrian safety in September. 

“Traffic-related accidents are something that people need to understand because they can be completely preventable,” Astaguna said. 

Bikes, the preferred mode of transportation for a large percentage of the UC Davis student body, can be equally dangerous. Bicyclists must watch out not only for cars on the road, but also for pedestrians. 

“As far as bicyclist collision numbers, 138 bicyclists were killed on California roads in 2016, a nearly 25 percent increase since 2011,” Weisberg said. 

Collision rankings provided by a researcher at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona demonstrate that in Davis, 69 bicyclists were injured and killed in 2016, the second-highest ranking out of 104 cities of similar size (50,000 to 100,000 people). 

The OTS recommends that pedestrians make eye contact with drivers, wear bright clothing and use a flashlight at night for maximum safety. They also discourage the use of cell phones and earbuds while walking. 

Pedestrian safety is not a matter to be taken lightly, especially when accidents are easily preventable. To read more about tips and the matter at hand, visit the OTS’s website at https://www.ots.ca.gov/media-and-research/campaigns/pedestrian-safety/

Written by: Isabella Beristain — features@theaggie.org