The National Safety Council encourages organizations to get involved and participate in National Safety Month (NSM) during June.
It is an annual event designed to “educate and influence behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths.” While NSM mainly revolves around adult safety, particularly in the workplace, the recent pedestrian deaths involving motor vehicles in Lexington and Frankfort are also a focus.
Pedestrian fatalities make up about 12 percent of all traffic fatalities every year. There are approximately 4,000 pedestrian deaths and over 59,000 pedestrians are injured in roadway crashes annually.
Pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths in children with the majority of these deaths being traffic related. Children ages 4 and under are at the greatest risk for pedestrian deaths. Most of these accidents occur in areas of high-traffic density, where there are parked cars and where there are no separated yards and playgrounds.
Beginning in the 1950s, most modern communities were built to promote and encourage the use of the automobile. This meant more cars and lanes of traffic, few or no traffic islands or edges, and fewer sidewalks. As a result, pedestrian fatalities and injuries skyrocketed.
Fortunately, this trend is showing signs of reversal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway safety programs across the United States have played a major role in the considerable decline in highway fatalities and serious injuries over the last four years.
These safety programs analyzed where safety improvements were needed. The safety measures were selected based on expert research that identified successful programs.
A major cause of motor vehicle crashes is driving distracted. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous activities. It has become so prevalent, that many city and state governments are banning texting while driving.
Talking on a cell phone, eating, reaching for articles in the floor or back seat and yes, putting on makeup while driving are all activities that lead to vehicle crashes.
If driving skills need improvement, there are classes available. Driving slower helps to reduce crashes and improves gasoline mileage. Anytime a person is behind the wheel of a machine weighing thousands of pounds, the focus should be on driving only.
Pedestrians, especially children, should learn the rules of safety. Rules such as crossing only in crosswalks and wearing light or reflective clothes are tried and true rules of sharing the road.
Never assume that a driver sees you. Make sure that you are actually making eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a car. Children can be taught traffic rules on their level such as never darting out into traffic or from behind parked cars. Bike safety includes wearing a helmet and protective gear and only riding in safe areas.
Until more advanced traffic safety measures can be implemented, everyone can do their part to reduce the rate of traffic fatalities injuries. For more information on protecting children, visit the Safe Kids USA website at www.safekids.org.