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April 2017 Safety Coach: Tips to Protect Pedestrians and Your Bottom Line

Safety Coach

Many factors have contributed to pedestrian traffic fatalities reaching their highest levels in more than two decades, including distracted walking and distracted driving.

Nationwide, the number of pedestrians killed is estimated to have increased by 11% in 2016, according to a report produced by the Governors Highway Safety Association. GHSA data shows 10 states and the District of Columbia had pedestrian fatality rates greater than 2.0 (per 100,000 population) in 2015, including Texas.

In 4 of the 10 largest cities in America, GHSA said pedestrian fatalities inched higher, including Houston (60 to 62) and Dallas (41 to 56).

Across the country, more people are walking – and riding bicycles. More people are driving more miles, too, due at least in part to lower fuel costs and a general uptick in the economy. While smartphones have not always produced smart decisions on walkways and roadways, pedestrian fatalities cannot all be traced to distraction.

GHSA findings indicate alcohol involvement for the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in about half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2015. To find solutions, a number of states and cities are exploring options such as:

  • Law enforcement efforts
  • Public information campaigns
  • Educational outreach in high-risk areas
  • Analysis of data

The Texas Department of Transportation has produced a radio public service announcement to promote pedestrian safety. In Austin, city leaders and community activists are working through Vision Zero to address intersections in need of improvements by studying trends and identifying pedestrian trouble spots.

What can you do at your workplace to safeguard pedestrians and protect your bottom line? Think, “Head Up and Phone Down.” Share a few basic tips from the National Safety Council and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in your organization’s weekly eNewsletter or via your company intranet service:

  • Look left, look right and look left again before crossing the street
  • Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
  • Never use a cell phone or electronic device while walking

Learn: The Problem of Distracted Walking

Tailgate Talk

Highlight Not So Funny Business of Distracted Walking

To talk about distracted walking with your employees, start by showing a couple of brief videos that are sure to put smiles on their faces:

Everyone can agree distracted walking is funny – at times. Everyone also should agree it can be very dangerous. An estimated 5,997 pedestrian traffic fatalities occurred in 2016, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. That’s an 11% rise over 2015.

National Safety Council data indicates distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries from 2000 to 2011. Four more facts to share:

  • 52% of cell phone distracted walking injuries happen at home
  • 68% of those injured are women
  • 54% are age 40 or younger
  • Nearly 80% of the injuries are due to a fall

Employers pay for injuries, whether they occur on or off the job, through everything from the cost of higher insurance premiums to lost productivity as a result of employees missing work. Pedestrian risk increases when walkers move outside of marked crosswalks and are out late at night, particularly in low-visibility areas.

In its report, GHSA highlights data that indicates:

  • 82% of pedestrian traffic fatalities occur outside of intersections
  • About half of pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and midnight
  • 74% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark

Distracted walkers can miss hazards such as surface and elevation changes – not to mention oncoming traffic. Drivers – particularly distracted drivers – can miss walkers. When the two collide, the result is NOT one that will leave you smiling.

Ask your employees to take away these three words from your talk on distracted walking: Be here now.