Yale Daily News reports students walking around campus in New Haven were greeted this week by bright orange warning messages spray-painted on the sidewalk at the intersection of Elm and High streets.
These messages had slogans such as "Don't read this. Look up!" or "Look both ways before crossing."
The warning messages on sidewalks and intersections throughout the Yale campus is part of the Pedestrian Safety Campaign that was launched by the Yale Traffic Safety Committee. The Committee collaborated with the university and the City of New Haven to improve pedestrian safety on the campus. Posters and spray painted sidewalks can be found at six major intersections on campus —Elm and High, Chapel and York, Elm and College, Elm and York, Wall and Temple and Chapel and College.
The Committee says the safety campaign was developed to remind pedestrians to stop and look before crossing the street. According to a brochure from the Yale Traffic Safety Committee, every year approximately 100 New Haven citizens are sent to the Emergency Room after getting hit by a car when crossing the street. The Committee states, " We know that a combination of three factors ‐ pedestrian behavior, driver behavior and the way the street is configured ‐ play a role in these pedestrian‐motor
vehicle crashes. As we work with the city, and motorist to make our
streets safer, we hope that all of us pedestrians can take a small step to
affect a big change.
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You win some, you lose some.
Many thanks to all of you who participated in the democratic process this spring to try to get the Vulnerable User bill (SB 191) passed. Despite passing unanimously in the Senate, the House again failed to bring the bill to vote.
Bike Walk Connecticut testified on a number of cycling and pedestrian-related bills during this year's legislative session. Wins in our column include the defeat of two bills that would have required single file riding for cyclists (SB 103 and HB 5246).
We supported the Comprehensive Energy Strategy Bill (HB 6360) for its inclusion of a transportation section that addressed bikeable, walkable communities and transit-oriented development.
We also supported distracted driving enforcement bills, one of which passed (HB 6033). That bill, enacted as Public Act No. 13-271, increases the fines for violating the ban on driving while operating a cell phone, texting, or engaging in any activity that interferes with a vehicle's safe operation. Fines are now $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
Additionally, Public Act 13-271 makes those violations part of the driver's motor vehicle record and be available to insurers. The new law also requires the DMV commissioner to assess at least one point on the record of a driver who violates the law banning drivers from using a cell phone, texting, or engaging in any activity that interferes with a vehicle's safe operation.
Finally, the new law creates a task force to: evaluate the effectiveness of existing distracted driving laws; examine their enforcement; and make recommendations, including legislation, to prevent distracted driving in the state. The task force must report to the Transportation Committee by January 1, 2014 and terminates when it submits its report.
"We understand the conditions that lead to pedestrian deaths, and we have proven tools to prevent these tragedies. It's time to put these tools to use. We must redesign Connecticut's roads and enhance traffic enforcement to make our roads safe for everyone."
So writes Amy Schwartz, a primary care physician at VA Connecticut Healthcare System and a member of Elm City Cycling in a recent op-ed in the CT Post.
Schwartz calls for Governor Malloy to direct the Connecticut Department of Transportation to redesign the outdated Connecticut Highway Design Manual, the standard reference book used by the state's road designers and engineers, to include information about designing streets that are safe for all users.
"Speed and red light cameras can enforce traffic laws by recording vehicles that exceed the speed limit or fail to stop at red lights," continues Schwartz, who adds that "Connecticut should also pass a vulnerable-users bill to increase penalties for careless drivers who injure or kill pedestrians, cyclists or highway workers."
> Read the full CT Post op-ed from Amy Schwartz, a primary care physician at VA Connecticut Healthcare System and a member of Elm City Cycling.
Take the Pledge to Never Text and Drive: “It Can Wait” is a Message That Can’t Wait
AT&T and the Traffic Safety Coalition invite you to join traffic safety supporters and advocates across the country in putting a stop to the practice of texting while driving. The Traffic Safety Coalition is partnering with AT&T's public awareness campaign to deliver the powerful message that "It Can Wait: No text is worth dying for."
Visit www.itcanwait.org and take the "don't text and drive" pledge today. Then check out the host of educational resources andinformation available on the website.
Ask the Expert: Jacy Good, Crash Survivor and FocusDriven Board Member
Jacy Good is not only a crash survivor with a powerful story but a board member and spokesperson for FocusDriven, a non-profit organization completely focused on a rapidly-growing driver distraction.
Q: Why is the issue of texting while driving important to you? How did you first become involved in this issue?
A: Unfortunately I became involved in helping raise awareness about distracted driving when the issue very painfully intruded into my life. In 2008, as my parents and I were driving home from my college graduation ceremony in Pennsylvania, we approached a green light as an 18-wheeler approached from the opposite direction. At the same time, a young man on the intersecting road was distracted as he approached a red light. The young man suffered from what is known as "inattention blindness," as his brain focused on the phone conversation rather than the task at hand, driving his car. As a result, he went through the red light in his effort to make a left turn. As he did this, the 18-wheeler opposite my car swerved across the double yellow line to miss him, but went directly into my family's car.
I suffered two broken feet, a broken tibia, broken fibula, broken wrist, broken collar bone, shattered pelvis, a lacerated liver, partially collapsed lungs, damaged carotid arteries and a traumatic brain injury. After four months in the hospital on the brink of dying, I learned that neither of my parents had survived the crash that day. I got involved with the issue when I learned there had been no criminal charges against either of the other drivers.
Q: Can you tell us about the work that FocusDriven is doing on this important issue?
A: FocusDriven’s board is made up of passionate citizens like myself who have lost loved ones to car crashes caused by cell phone distracted drivers. We know that by sharing our pain and our personal stories with law enforcement, high school students, and business and community groups, we can create the social change required to stop others from having to experience the preventable pain we have endured.
Q: If you could say just one thing to someone before they decide to text or use their cell phone while driving, what would it be?
A: I would tell them no text message, no phone call, no tweet is worth a life. Reading or responding to a message can wait. Do not put your own life or the lives of others in danger.
By Alex Kerwin, Communications Specialist with DistractedDrivingHelp.com
After a five year decline in traffic fatalities, the first quarter of 2012 saw a 13.5 percent increase from the first quarter of the prior year. Distracted driving is likely a significant factor in the increase in highway fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has documented an increase in distracted driving as a factor in accidents. In 2005, 10 percent of accidents were at least partly caused by distracted driving. That figure increased to 18 percent by 2010. Distracted driving led to 3092 deaths and 416,000 injuries in 2010. Drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted in 11 percent of the accidents. Young drivers have the highest rate of distracted driving.
While texting and driving is the most dangerous distracted driving behavior, other types of distractions are also hazardous. Many states have enacted laws to ban handheld devices like cell phones. However, even hands-free equipment users are less safe on the road. A Carnegie Mellon study found that using a cell phone while driving decreases brain activity devoted to driving by 37 percent.
Distracted driving isn’t limited to electronic devices. Eating, drinking, smoking and applying cosmetics also contribute to careless driving. Using navigation systems, reading and adjusting radios or other entertainment devices are other common behaviors by distracted drivers. Any action that takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road can lead to auto accidents.
In response to the mounting evidence of the dangers of cell phone use by drivers, many states have passed increasingly strict laws banning them. Connecticut has one of the strictest laws in the country. A first offense carries a fine of $125 while three or more offenses cost $400 each. The law applies to both texting and using handheld cell phones. Connecticut drivers under age 18 also face license or permit suspension for up to six months. Restoration of the permit or license requires a $175 fee plus court costs.
The Connecticut law prohibits the use of both hands-free and handheld phones by drivers under age 18. All drivers are banned from using laptops, pagers, digital cameras, video game devices or DVD players.
Since Connecticut enacted their first law banning cell phone use by drivers in 2005, male drivers have received the most tickets for violations. A 2012 analysis by the Associated Press confirmed that males are more likely to be ticketed for violating the law. In 2011, 16,000 tickets were issued to male drivers for violations. Female drivers received 13,690 tickets for cell phone law violations.
While study results have been mixed on whether bans and steep fines decrease cell phone use and texting, these laws have a role to play in eliminating this dangerous behavior. A recent survey of teen drivers conducted by the Ad Council found that 88 percent of teens would decrease or stop texting while driving if it were banned. Large fines, license suspension or other strict penalties would encourage 96 percent of those surveyed to stop texting while operating a vehicle.
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