(WTNH) — Officials are noticing an uptick in pedestrian-involved accidents across Connecticut and across the country. People have been hit by cars while crossing the street and even while standing on sidewalks.
Pedestrians and drivers are often distracted, especially by cell phones. The Department of Transportation is now collecting data on cell phone usage when studying accidents.
State Representative Kim Rose calls the western part of Bridgeport Avenue the most dangerous area in Milford for pedestrians. Several people have been hit by cars there, including two people in one week last year. Rose asked the DOT to study the area, and they’ve made some changes to make it safer.
“They restriped certain areas so when you’re coming over the bridge you have to take a right and it’s one lane to go straight,” said Rose.
However, this problem is not unique to Milford. Pedestrian-related accidents are up across the state. According to the Connecticut Crash Data Repository, there were more than 1,400 accidents in 2016 alone; more than 50 were fatal.
“The vulnerable user is the pedestrian,” said Kevin Nursick of the DOT. “If something goes wrong the pedestrian stands to be injured or killed.”
The DOT says about half of the accidents are the driver’s fault, but pedestrians are sometimes to blame too.
“We have seen more instances of people walking on highways,” said Nursick.
There are things you can do to prevent accidents. As a pedestrian it is important to be predictable. That’s as simple as crossing the street in the crosswalk because that’s where drivers would expect you to cross.
“It’s very important to get that eye contact, that acknowledgement that the motorist sees you,” said Nursick.
Lawmakers and the DOT are still looking to do what they can to make the roads safer.
“The traffic light timing – could that be adjusted to slow people down a bit? I think the key here is to slow traffic down,” said Rose.
Pedestrians should take care to make themselves visible to drivers, especially at night. Wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight to make yourself easier to see.