23 March, 2009


Regionally, pedestrians and bicyclists account for a fifth of those killed on the roads in the Washington region (averaging 86 per year, with over 2,600 injured). “Street Smart” is an annual public education and awareness campaign in the Washington, DC, suburban Maryland and northern Virginia area. Since its beginning in 2002, the campaign has used radio, newspaper,and transit advertising, public awareness efforts, and added law enforcement, to respond to the challenges of pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

The latest wave of the “Street Smart” regional pedestrian and bicyclist safety outreach campaign will begin March 23, and run through April 19, 2009. The goals of the campaign are to change motorist and pedestrian behavior, and reduce pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries, by increasing awareness of the consequences of pedestrian and bicycle crashes and recommending actions to reduce risks. Simple actions, like using crosswalks, obeying signals, and looking “left-right-left” will help reduce the risk of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle. Drivers can take precautions like slowing down and stopping for pedestrians. During the Street Smart campaign, area law enforcement partners will remind walkers and drivers of their responsibilities, and they’ll also be taking action against unsafe and illegal behavior.

In addition to walkers and drivers, cyclists also need to take the proper precautions before hitting the road. They must obey all regulatory signs and traffic lights. Bikers should never ride against traffic, as riding with the flow helps avoid potential accidents. Bikers should also remember to use hand signals to inform motorists of what they intend to do, and ride in a straight line to the right of traffic. Finally, ALWAYS wear a helmet – they dramatically reduce the risk of head injury in a bicycle accident.

In the 2007 Street Smart enforcement waves, the MPD gave 5,695 total citations, 3,725 to drivers and 1,931 to pedestrians. Between the March 23-April 19 campaign period, MPD will conduct two weeks of intensive enforcement during the campaign period. MPD has trained 230 officers in a course on effective pedestrian enforcement techniques since January of 2007.

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