PennDOT launched its new media campaign for pedestrian safety – “It’s Road Safety, Not Rocket Science” – at a news conference this morning at the intersection of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue to promote pedestrian safety education, awareness and enforcement among Temple students, faculty and the surrounding community.
Temple Police’s Captain of Special Services Eileen Bradley said that for the past seven or eight years, she’s wanted to get students and staff to consider the consequences about texting and being vigilant while they walk.
“This is another layer for us,” Bradley said. “I don’t call it crime prevention. I call it risk reduction. I’m very happy that they chose Temple for this, because sometimes we have to put officers out there during changes of classes to make sure students can cross safely.”
Brad Rudolph, the safety press officer for PennDot District 6, said pedestrian crashes have decreased by 25 percent statewide since 2001. But in 2013, Philadelphia’s pedestrian fatalities rose to nearly 1,800 injuries and 37 deaths.
Ema Yamamoto from the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities noted in her section of the press conference that a driver hits a pedestrian once every five hours.
In the spring of 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded a two-year, $525,000 grant to PennDOT and Philadelphia to improve pedestrian safety, Rudolph said in his opening remarks.
Through research from the grant, the city has identified three zones where crashes are likely – Market Street, from 5th Street to 22nd Street; Broad Street, from Race Street to Lehigh Avenue; and Broad Street, from Olney Avenue to Chew Avenue.
“We’re standing at one of those corridors here this morning,” Rudolph said in his speech. “At this intersection alone at Broad and Cecil B. Moore, there were 13 pedestrian crashes between 2009 and 2013.”
The “It’s Road Safety, Not Rocket Science” initiative will include educational outreach to teach members of the community and children specifically how to act around busy street and crosswalks through school programs and social media outreach, but will have an enforcement component as well.
Philadelphia police will be handing out warnings and citations to pedestrians and drivers that exhibit unsafe behavior such as texting while crossing a crosswalk or driving, failing to yield to a pedestrian, failing to drive at a the right speed through an intersection, and failing to cross only in an crosswalk to name a few.
Captain Robert Glenn said as a result of the campaign, police would have more of a presence at the priority zones.
“We’re increasing [police] presence during times traffic is heavy,” Glenn said. “Especially at those zones that are the most accident heavy because we can’t educate unless we get out there and interact with the people.”
The police captain added that the area around Temple was a high-risk zone because of the volume of people – both pedestrians and motorists – that pass through the university each day.
“When you put that combo together, it makes it a high risk area,” he said. “You have pedestrians that are not being completely cognizant when they are walking and you have vehicles that are not obeying all the laws of the road.”
David Glovach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DavidGlovach