The benefits of walking are well documented. With almost 35% of Californians in a diabetic or pre-diabetic situation walking can be a good portion of the solution. Walking starts to lose some of its luster if you're walking and get hit by a car. That scenario is increasing in California and we lead the nation in both whole numbers of injuries and percentage rise in injuries.
Probable causes for the increase include lower gas prices, improving economy, distracted walking, distracted drivers and increased cell phone use. The fact is that pedestrians are making up the highest share of all traffic related deaths in a quarter of a century and that number is steadily climbing. While cars are being built safer so more motorists survive collisions, the pedestrian is as vulnerable as ever and there are actually more of them on the road.
In 2014 there were 4 million Americans walked to work and that number is up 700,000 since 2005. The engineers that study this suggest solutions like more sidewalks, traffic signals and speed bumps, improved streetlights and better education so both pedestrians and drivers better understand the rules of the road. State officials are also employing strategies such as spotting the most impacted areas and combining targeted traffic enforcement with information campaigns in an effort to lower the impact.
Caltrans has awarded millions of dollars to local pedestrian and bicycle safety projects and holding meetings around the state to address this situation. They are focusing on increasing driver awareness, decreasing cell phone use while driving and ways to place a separation between drivers and pedestrians. The effect of a pedestrian colliding with a car can run from serious injury with life-long consequences to death!
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