Pedestrian safety is a major concern in many US cities. In 2017, the most recent year the CDC has statistics for, there was one pedestrian death every 88 minutes—totaling 5,977 deaths for the year.
Seattle has its own set of safety issues for pedestrians as collision rates have climbed over the past three years. 2019 proved to be a particularly dangerous year for people out on foot and on bikes, with 37 collisions in just two months.
What modifications has the city done to curb these accidents, and do they work?
Pedestrians take the lead
Last year, several crosswalks around town were slated to be given a several-second lead on vehicular traffic lights to help people cross the street with more clearance and to help them become more visible to drivers. Studies in other states showed an improvement in the rates of pedestrian-vehicle collisions after implementing similar measures.
The city is also building more sidewalks, adding pedestrian infrastructure, and creating community initiatives for neighborhood safety.
Regardless of safety improvements, the threat remains
People who travel by foot face challenges to their safety every day. Even with these new implementations, there will still likely be accidents involving pedestrians and vehicle drivers. Distracted driving remains a huge threat, as does traffic congestion, overcrowding, and aggressive driving. These all work against the efforts to protect pedestrians.
Healing from an injury after a collision with a car can take a long time and cause a significant disruption to life, including missing work, school, and personal enjoyment. The physical, mental, and financial damages can be high.
That’s why it’s important to never trust motorists with your life when you’re on foot. Even if they were in the wrong, your life can depend on heightened vigilance while out walking or biking in a city.