City officials in Baltimore have seen one too many car accidents involving pedestrians, and they have dedicated themselves to doing something about it.
Although the number of pedestrian and car accidents in the city is the lowest it has been in a decade, Baltimore still accounts for about 30 percent of car-pedestrian collisions in the state. Because of this, officials have launched “Street Smart,” a campaign aimed at teaching both drivers and walkers to be careful on the roads.
They know, however, it will not be easy to change old habits. Baltimore drivers, for instance, frequently block intersections during rush hour or run red lights. Pedestrians don’t follow the rules that require them to use crosswalks and walk only when lights instruct them.
One local transportation engineer said the project will take time to be successful and advised patience. It took a while, for example, to convince drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, and that has become a habit for most in the city.
Last year, drivers hit 820 pedestrians in Baltimore, injuring 703 of them. Nine people died, according to figures compiled by Maryland’s State Highway Administration. The pedestrians were blamed in 70 percent of the accidents, according to the report.
Statewide, 103 pedestrians died in accidents in 2011.
A police major said his officers frequently concentrate their efforts in an area near a major university, where pedestrian accidents are not uncommon. About 200 tickets were written one weekend when officers worked in that area.
The efforts also include the city putting yellow signs at crosswalks to remind walkers to look for cars and not to dash into the street. Officials also want to discourage people from either walking or driving while talking on their cellphones. Eliminating distracted driving is one of the easiest ways to reduce pedestrian accidents.