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USDOT releases ‘Pedestrian Safety Action Plan’

New program seeks to reduce pedestrian deaths and serious injuries

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) this week released what it is calling a “first-of-its-kind” Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

The plan is explained in a 26-page document that lays out actions to be achieved by the end of this year, the end of next year and into the future.

It begins by offering information to help people in “understanding the challenge” and “addressing the challenge.”

The goal is reducing pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. The strategy is multi-pronged as laid out in the plan.

“To accomplish this goal, USDOT is taking a comprehensive approach that encompasses improvements to the roadway and surrounding environment, increased education on the shared responsibility of both pedestrians and motorists along with enforcement and adjudication of pedestrian safety laws,” the plan states.

The plan involves key agencies playing a role over the next two years: the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Areas of emphasis include research plus evaluating and updating resources, initiatives and curriculum.

Since 2016, the number of pedestrian fatalities has remained between 6,000 and 6,400 annually, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Over the past decade, pedestrian fatalities have gradually accounted for a larger percentage of all fatalities, rising from 13% of the 32,999 fatalities in 2010 to 17% of the 36,096 fatalities in 2019, according to the USDOT report.

The majority of deaths took place in urban settings (81%), in the dark (76%) and when the person was not at an intersection (74%), according to FARS data.

October, November and December also traditionally see the highest number of fatalities so the information is very timely.

The Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is packed with data including the types of vehicles and types of roadways involved as well as information on speed and associated risk, making the information useful for the roadway safety industry.

The plan also lists its action plan and draws on information we reported in The Signal magazine in our September/October 2020 issue. There we shared takeaways from the USDOT pedestrian summit held this summer.

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