In the last 5 years, Louisville averaged 16 pedestrian deaths a year, exceeding the national average of XX pedestrian fatalities per year.
As a solution, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the creation of a new 13-week pedestrian safety program entitled Look Alive Louisville aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities. The program’s focus is to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths by changing the behavior of both pedestrians and drivers. Education and training programs will address the two major causes of pedestrian accidents: inattention and distraction.
So often you hear people say, “Pedestrians always have the right of way,” which is legally true, but may not always happen in the real world. Drivers and pedestrians both have rights, but both also bear responsibilities for everyone’s safety on the road. Drivers are often distracted, or simply may not see a pedestrian, and may not follow the rules of the road as pedestrians expect. Pedestrians are often distracted themselves, looking at their smart phones, texting or carrying on an animated conversation, simply assuming that drivers see will them and stop accordingly. Tragically, this often does not happen and the pedestrian always comes out on the losing end when coming up against a vehicle.
Louisville’s high pedestrian death rate is also the reason why last fall the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) awarded Louisville federal grant money ($307,000) over a three-year period to help reduce pedestrian death rates to zero by educating children and adults throughout the Metro area, and training Louisville Metro Police, about pedestrian safety. City officials also have set up pedestrian decoys in several areas of town with high pedestrian accident rates, to catch drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
We applaud the Mayor’s focus on pedestrian safety and support his efforts to eliminate distractions on Louisville roadways. As Louisville continues to grow, and add bicycle and walking lanes throughout the city, it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part, whether we are the pedestrian or the driver, we all need to pay greater attention so that we can all improve safety and reduce pedestrian injuries in our great city.