Friday, February 27, 2009

Neighborhood Traffic Safety – It’s No Accident!

Neighborhood Traffic Safety – It’s No Accident!

We hear the word “Accident” often. Anytime a crash occurs or child is hit by a car we hear it referred to as an accident.

Yet how many tragedies are accidents? If a driver is exceeding the speed limit on a neighborhood street, or any roadway for that matter, and hits a child crossing the street, running after a ball, or riding a bike, is that an accident?

Consider these facts:

Most speeders on local roadways live right in the neighborhood.
If you hit a pedestrian:
At 20 mph 5% will die
At 30 mph 45% will die
At 40 mph 85% will die
Pedestrian fatalities increase by 3 times when moving from 25 mph zones to 30 mph zones.
Local roadways, including residential streets, have a fatality rate per miles driven over 2 times higher than on highways.

Clearly, driver behavior is crucial to creating a safe environment for everyone using a roadway. Controlling speed is no accident. It is a responsibility that helps to insure safety for others and for ourselves. No one wants to be behind the wheel and hit a child, or pedestrian of any age for that matter. Safe driving behavior is no accident. It is a decision we make each time we get behind the wheel.

The national non-profit Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 is committed to working with communities to involve and educate residents about how to make neighborhood streets safer. This includes children playing, bike riders, pedestrians of all ages, drivers, and passengers. It takes the commitment of parents, law enforcement, city services, schools, businesses, and city government working together to create safe streets for the benefit of all. Creating safe neighborhood streets is no accident.

Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 began in August 1998 in Omaha, Nebraska. Since that time the campaign has grown to encompass initiatives in almost 1000 communities representing 47 states plus Washington DC, 2 Canadian Provinces, and the Bahamas. Along the way families have become involved in the effort in memory of their own children, hit and killed on neighborhood streets, often by a speeding or inattentive driver.

Cities have joined the cause by establishing Traffic Safety Committees that bring together residents, law enforcement, public works and city officials, schools, businesses, and civic groups to develop plans to implement Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 communitywide. Educational actions include expecting parents to monitor their children and establish safe places to play. The street is not a playground. It means teaching children how to cross the street correctly and safely. It means buckling up for each and every trip no matter the distance. It means observing the speed limit and slowing down when we see children ahead, or when visibility is poor. It means paying attention to potential hazards such as a parked car a child could be hiding behind. These are all quality of life concerns that we ourselves have the power to address. Neighborhood traffic safety is no accident.

Learn more about how your neighborhood, community, school, business, or civic organization can make a difference in creating safe streets for all. Visit www.KeepKidsAliveDrive25.org, e-mail kkad25@kkad25.org, or call 402-334-1391.

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