Philadelphia is hoping that a $525,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will help it reverse a three year trend of increased pedestrian fatalities. A total of 31 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes during 2012, representing 29 percent of the city's total traffic fatalities.
The city plans to use the funds in downtown areas by increasing police visibility and ticketing during high risk hours in 20 high-crash locations. The grant will also be used for marketing to reach pedestrians in these areas and to train officers on pedestrian safety. The NHTSA says research shows such safety campaigns significantly increase safer behavior by drivers, such as yielding appropriately to pedestrians.
This effort supports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s new Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative, which was unveiled last month. The initiative seeks to reduce the growing number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities through a comprehensive approach that addresses infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety, and data collection.
“This is especially important because more Americans are walking and running to maintain their health or as an alternative to their regular commutes.” said Foxx.
In 2012 alone, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in crashes. The majority of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities occur in urban areas. In 2012, nearly three-quarters of all pedestrian fatalities, (73 percent) and more than two-thirds of all bicyclist fatalities (69 percent) occurred in urban areas. Studies of pedestrian fatalities at the local level have found that compared to rural areas, the rate of pedestrian crashes per number of residents is four times as high in large urban areas, and twice as high in small or midsize urban areas.
In April, the Department announced that Pennsylvania, New York, and Kentucky would share approximately $1.6 million to implement specific education and enforcement initiatives in the cities of Philadelphia, New York, and Louisville as part of each community's Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. The three winners are among the cities with some of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities nationwide.