4,432 – That’s the number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles in 2011 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The federal agency recently launched a new campaign focused on pedestrian safety titled, Everyone is a Pedestrian. Was that ever in debate; who is or isn’t a pedestrian? If it was NHTSA’s new campaign has put that to rest once and for all, and in doing so has also provided us with a crap ton of information on pedestrian safety (i.e. fliers, videos, facts, data and pictures).

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To learn more go here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyone…

Watch don’t Walk

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Across the intersection a large white glowing sign flashes WALK, but what it’s really saying is: IF ALL THE DRIVERS ON THE ROAD ADHERE TO EVERY TRAFFIC LAW THIS EXACT MOMENT IN TIME IS THE SAFEST POINT FOR YOU TO DASH ACROSS THE ROAD WITH LEAST CHANCE OF BEING VIOLENTLY STRUCK BY A VEHICLE.

The problem is that wouldn’t fit on a sign very easily. See:

I have a big problem with the world walk. Walk, especially when written in flashing all-caps, as if yelling at you to GO, has a rather distinct connation. It is a direct command to immediately take multiple strides. It implies that you are in fact safe to proceed and should do so right away. It is a big white lie (get it? The light is white and so is the lie…yeeaaa).

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Having almost been hit a few times at a crosswalk, I have to ask; should we change the sign from WALK to something a bit more precautious? WATCH! CAREFUL! BE WARY! CARS KILL YOU! DEATH APPROACHES! (Emphasis on the exclamation point being added to the light)

The notion that as a pedestrian you have the right of way is based on an arrogant presumption that drivers actually see you.

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Yes Mr. Pedestrian, you may very well have the right of way, but if the driver recognizes your right of way as his or her rear left tire crushes your femur, what good does it do then? “Oh, my. I sincerely apologize for running you over. You did have the right of way.”
Rather than Everyone is a Pedestrian, NHTSA should have considered Everyone is a Killer.

That's how I operate when I'm on the road. I always assume people are trying to kill me with their vehicle. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a car, on a bike or out for a walk – I always assume every car on the road is being piloted with one goal in mind: ending my life.

So, you’re probably wondering how many of the 4,432 mentioned above were killed properly using crosswalks? That isn’t entirely clear.

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As we’ve come to learn, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data is plagued with high counts of meaningful categories like UNKNOWN or NONE. This isn’t NHTSA’s fault, but rather a consequence of collecting (and trusting) data from the 50+ states and territories.

There was an interesting change in the data specifically as it related to the category NONE REPORTED. In 2008 it stood at 1,506 or 34% of total pedestrians. In 2009, again at 34% (1,410) and in 2010 it fell to 24% (1,136 total). Finally, in 2011, the latest year of data available, it fell to a whopping 611 or 13.8%. It appears a large majority of these counts moved into the category of FAILURE TO YIELD RIGHT OF WAY as that population had the highest percentage gain going from 17% in 2008 to 25% in 2011.

Below is a graph from the latest FARS data (2011):

While changing the sign from WALK to something a bit less decisive won’t have a huge impact, as it won’t stop people from laying in the street (who does this?!) or drunk people from darting across the road (which is common in pedestrian fatalities), I think it’s worth exploring.

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What do you think? Should we reconsider the WALK sign?
And let me save some of you the trouble and post this comment, “God, if people would just pay fucking attention!” Now, please feel free to add something other than that.