Streetsmart Reminders as Accident Rates Rise
We care about you--and your safety is a big part of that! Unfortunately, many factors contribute to safety when one is biking or walking around Lebanon and they include both personal behavior and physical conditions. On that note, drivers and pedestrians are more distracted than ever, it appears, while the age-old fact that late fall is the darkest time of year poses an unchanged obstacle to visibility.
As recently noted in a Valley News editorial (10/30/19), national rates of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths are at an all-time high and have risen to be 20% of all traffic-related deaths, while deaths due to vehicle-only accidents have fallen. Night-time fatalities represent the category that has increased the most.
Lebanon is generally insulated from higher rates of accidents, in large part thanks to a community with dedicated law enforcement and ongoing infrastructure improvements but is not immune as illustrated by another unfortunate accident on 12A involving a pedestrian a vehicle earlier this month, a month that historically has been challenged, again likely due to fewer daylight hours.
What’s behind the new data? Is it that people are more active so the odds are greater? Or that vehicles are larger—and safer for their occupants—but not safer for others involved in collisions? We will not guess here but want to emphasize what each person has in their control to help Lebanon thrive as a safe, walkable, and comfortable place to live and visit. Think about your daily travels and times you’ve had close-calls. Pretty scary if you were almost hit, or if you almost hit someone else, right?
Now, will you take a minute to say aloud to yourself “I commit to safe driving, biking and walking”?
The Lebanon Police Department offers some helpful pedestrian safety tips for this time of year and the Lebanon Pedestrian and Bicyclist Advisory Committee has additional advice and educational videos for car and bike drivers and pedestrians. In particular:
- Avoid wearing dark clothing. Drivers cannot avoid what they can't see. When walking at night, wear retro-reflective outdoor clothing or shoes or lights to make yourself more visible.
- Learn to safely open your car door using the “Dutch Reach” and similarly, don’t just rely on mirrors when backing up!
- Share the Road - “same road, same rules” apply to vehicle and bike drivers alike
- Respect the speed limit and drive like you live here. Oh, wait, most of us do! Go extra slow when turning, watch for kids and pets, and whether walking or driving, don’t assume everyone sees each other.
- Be weather-wise and night-aware as snow, glare, and rain, and even high-power headlights often obscure visibility, making it hard to see other moving objects and road striping—not to add the challenges of icy conditions
- Yield to pedestrians, whether you’re driving a car or bike, road or trail, as it’s the law and it’s also a reality that people often cross where they need to, in lieu of crossing facilities.
- Kids on sidewalks only. By law, adults (age 12+) are not allowed to ride bikes/e-bikes on sidewalks or crosswalks
- Also, by law, bicyclists must wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise
- And for everyone: eliminate distractions by keeping your heads up and hands free, whether it’s concerning phones, headphones, pets, or other impairments to being fully alert.
Most of the above tips are also enforceable but we trust that you can see the common street-sense behind them!