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NHTSA declares October 'Pedestrian Safety Month'

Goal is to encourage alertness by motorists

Pedestrians take the forefront in October with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) holding its first “Pedestrian Safety Month,” a national educational outreach to heighten awareness for motorists and pedestrians of all ages.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) held a Summit on Pedestrian Safety in July during which groups representing both pedestrian and bicyclist organizations took part.

Pedestrian fatalities climbed from 12% of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 to 17% in 2018, according to NHTSA data. However, early estimates for 2019 suggest a 2% reduction in pedestrian fatalities, which is encouraging, said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens, who spoke during the summit’s final session.

NHTSA is finalizing a community-based assessment tool for states and communities to help them identify areas where pedestrians are most vulnerable to injury and implement effective countermeasures. Education is one component of the plan, which is why NHTSA designated October as  Pedestrian Safety Month.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety offers a “focused approach” program to target specific issues including pedestrian and bicyclist safety in jurisdictions across the nation. It offers examples of programs that have undertaken changes to target this issue.

FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason said during the Summit on Pedestrian Safety that she was surprised that nearly half — 46% — of the summit participants who took part in a survey reported believing street design and technology will lead to the biggest long-term gains in pedestrian safety improvements.

FHWA created a Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian program, known as STEP, which offers resources, including videos.

Often overlooked in the data is the segment of pedestrians who are killed or injured on the job - from roadway workers to emergency responders, Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), noted during the meeting.

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