Pedestrians, motorists behaving better on the roads than last year, study found

The South County Bike & Pedestrian Work Group has released the results of its 2010 Pedestrian Observation Survey. This is the second year that the organization has conducted such a study. And the survey says, both pedestrians and drivers are behaving better this year, when compared to last year. From Aug. 23 through Sept. 27, members of the group watched the actions of pedestrians and motorists at 13 sites countywide. Because the work group is based in south county, 62-percent of the observation sites where located there. While making their observations, members noted pedestrian age rage, whether they used due care when entering the roadway, whether the pedestrian waited for the traffic signal to give them to go ahead to cross and whether motorists yielded to pedestrians, as well as whether drivers stopped at stop signs and red lights. The survey found that of the 2,217 pedestrians observed, 9 in 10 waited for the walk signal to go green before entering the road. As for motorists, fewer than 1 in 10 failed to stop before making a right turn, as compared to 3 in 10 last year. One area the work group could focus more efforts is on pedestrian safety education among the county's young people. The survey found that they use less care when entering the road, compared to all other pedestrians observed. "Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users,” said Sarah Harmon, the county Health Services Agency educator who oversees the work group, which is a subgroup of the Community Traffic Safety Coalition. Motorists and pedestrians both play a role in pedestrian safety. The results of this annual survey will help local groups advocate for safer roadways." The area's poor history of pedestrian safety fuels the groups' drive in making the roads safer for pedestrians through outreach and education. In 2007, Watsonville had the 4th highest rate of pedestrian injuries and/or fatalities, compared to 106 other cities in California with a similar population size, the group reported. In 2009, more than one-quarter of pedestrian injuries and/or fatalities occurred in Watsonville. Countywide, nearly one in eight traffic fatalities in 2007-08 were pedestrians.
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