Time to the turn the tide of road traffic injuries and fatalities

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is shocked and saddened by the news that, across the nation, road traffic injuries and fatalities have increased significantly this year. In the first half of 2016, 19,100 people were killed by traffic crashes in the United States. This equals

  • Half the population of Manassas, VA; or
  • Every single person living in Hyattsville, MD; or
  • Full capacity of the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

Bike PDH                                                                                         source: Bike PGH

In the Greater Washington DC region, our hearts are broken as we stand with the families and communities that have recently felt this too close to home, with several pedestrians involved in serious and fatal traffic crashes in the month of August alone.

It is critical that our communities provide all students with safe routes to walk and bike to school. This means creating safe environments and teaching safety skills to people who walk, bicycle, and drive.

The National Partnership, together with our community partners, recommends the following improvements and policy changes to increase safety for students walking and bicycling, both short- and long-term:

  • Sidewalks and bicycle paths that connect homes with schools;
  • Student-friendly opportunities to cross streets – such as the presence of adult crossing guards, raised medians, traffic and pedestrian signals, and/or pathways that are safe, convenient, and accessible for students of all abilities; and
  • Slow vehicle speeds and yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists, accomplished through roadway safety measures (traffic calming), speed limit reductions, and/or police enforcement operations.

Every day, millions of adults and children safely walk and bike to school or other destinations in communities across the country. Walking and biking are important activities that bring countless benefits to individuals and communities as a whole — through increased physical activity, better health, longer lifespans, and stronger economies are achieved. Our work and the work of our community partners brings an urgent and immediate need to address conditions that can put students at risk as they are walking or rolling to school.

We are committed to continuing to work with the governments and Safe Routes to School advocates in the region, through Vision Zero efforts and other important policy, funding, and community-building work, to ensure the safety of people walking and bicycling, everywhere — and especially on the streets known to be dangerous and at high risk for crashes.