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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Newspaper Article 7: Multiple Threat

Anytown-Local pedestrians have a new friend at the Department of Public Works. David Hearn has big plans for downtown Anytown's streets. "I want to make Anytown more pedestrian-friendly," Hearn said on Tuesday at a luncheon for pedestrian advocates. "Our city has many great traffic features, like our improved pedestrian traffic signals and up-to-date pedestrian warning signs. We do need more marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals," Hearn continued, "but before that can be effective, we simply need pedestrians and drivers to look out for each other," he added.

Just ask Julie Schmidt, a 16 year-old junior at Anytown High School. Just last week, she was injured in a pedestrian-vehicle crash on Atlas Street. She was struck by a minivan as she crossed the street in front of the school.

"A car stopped for me and I started across," said Schmidt. "What I didn't see at all was another driver passing the stopped car. I just didn't see it. And the driver didn't see me until it was too late. I am very lucky that my injuries weren't more severe," she added.

Julie's story is not uncommon. Situations like these, called "multiple threats" include countless scenarios where pedestrians concentrate on one safety issue and are inattentive to other serious threats. Likewise, drivers should always assume other vehicles are stopped for a reason and proceed with caution when passing.

We have all been threatened like this. A driver stops for a pedestrian to be courteous, but the driver behind them or the lane next to them doesn't realize why they have stopped. In a hurry to reach their destination, they swerve around the stopped car to continue on their way. This is the moment that changes lives-either the driver sees the pedestrian in time and stops in a rush of adrenaline-or the driver fails to see the pedestrian at all, and crashes their 3000 pound vehicle into them.

Situations like these require dedication on both sides of the wheel. Pedestrians need to understand that they are hard to see in an environment where drivers are conditioned to look for other vehicles. Drivers need to remember that pedestrians have the right of way and they are not always aware if a vehicle is approaching. If they do see it, they might assume that the driver is going to stop for them.

David Hearn is working with the Anytown Pedestrian Safety Campaign to address this issue as one among many that can make pedestrians safer in our area. You may see the Pedestrian Safety Campaign materials on television, hear them on the radio or see them posted or printed.

The Anytown Pedestrian Safety Coalition is currently conducting a campaign to remind drivers to look for pedestrians; and to encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks and follow the pedestrian signal indications.

More information about this and other safety issues is available in English and some in Spanish. To volunteer or obtain more information about Anytown's Pedestrian Safety Campaign and other associated events, please call (Campaign Coordinator's name here) at (phone number) or (email address).