This morning the Department of Transportation took a step toward protecting the lives of our dedicated professionals with a pedestrian safety demonstration.
Two months ago, I blogged about a pair of crashes involving pedestrians near DOT headquarters. Soon after, the DC Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Police Department introduced "No turn on red" restrictions and added crossing safety officers at the area's busiest intersections.
And today's StreetSmart demonstration, again in partnership with the terrific folks at DDOT and the MPD, brings us even closer to the kind of safety we need to achieve near DOT headquarters--and in communities across America.
As DDOT director Gabe Klein said this morning, the burden is on everyone--drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians--to be more careful out there.
But the fact remains that pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of our roadways, with bicyclists not far behind. And when you are driving, you are the sole pilot of a 4,000-pound projectile; you must slow down, pay attention, and proceed with caution.
That means, first and foremost, respecting the law. It means turning carefully, no speeding, and no distracted driving.
In a dramatic demonstration this morning, we saw firsthand the cost of ignoring the speed limit. A vehicle traveling at the 25 mile per hour local speed limit was able to brake in time to avoid a young boy--in our case, a safety dummy--crossing the intersection.
At 35 miles per hour, the same vehicle could not stop in time and struck the child with a thud that instantly silenced those of us watching the demonstration. It really took very little imagination to understand that in real life the dull thud of car against dummy would have taken a life and destroyed many others.
And, as MPD Assistant Chief Pat Burke pointed out, not using an intersection and choosing to cross mid-block is the leading cause of pedestrian fatalities in the DC area.
Of course, abiding by the law is not enough; paying attention to the signs and signals is not enough. Because having the right-of-way is no guarantee of safety, pedestrians must be more defensive. And they definitely need to put away their electronic devices and pay careful attention when crossing a busy intersection.
Look, whether you're walking, riding, or driving--one small, individual lapse in attention can lead to a tragedy that inflicts its damage upon many.
So, please, everyone, let's pay closer attention to each other. As Assistant Chief Burke advised, "All we need to do is take the time to look out for others."