One New York City suburb has gone without a single pedestrian-motor vehicle accident in the past year. Leonia, New Jersey has implemented a new traffic signal for one of the area's busiest crossroads. The intersection between Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue has introduced an all-red phase traffic signal, stopping traffic in all directions for 26 seconds every other cycle.
The intersection is often congested with vehicles trying to take a different route across the Hudson River, other than the crowded George Washington Bridge. With all four directions temporarily turned red, pedestrians can safely cross the busy intersection and even cross diagonally if desired.
During the two years before the introduction of the all-red signal phase, 7 pedestrians were hit by cars at the intersection. One New Jersey woman was dragged more than 70 feet along the road, leading to her death.
Mayor Judah Zeigler told USA TODAY, “If we had kept going down the course we were going down, it was really a matter of when, not if, another pedestrian would be killed.”
Senior citizens, who take longer to cross the road, and students benefit the most from the all red-signal, according to Chief Thomas Rowe of the Leonia Police Department. Many students walk to a nearby elementary school that is less than a block away from the intersection. School foot traffic coincides with rush hour, further clogging the roads and endangering pedestrians.
Rowe said, “The benefits have been exactly what we were hoping for, and there’s absolutely no reason for us to go back to the way it used to be. I can’t allow our pedestrians to be put in danger.”
While some motorists have complained about traffic being further delayed by the all-red signal phase, it is clear that pedestrian safety is the number one priority for the city of Leonia.
Throughout the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says on average, a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes. Considering this staggering statistic, it is no surprise that towns such as Leonia are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety. In addition, both pedestrians and drivers can take steps to keep roads safer. People on foot should use sidewalks to cross streets whenever possible, be visible with bright or reflective clothing, and never assume that automobile drivers see them. Motor vehicle operators on the other hand, should always watch for pedestrians, slow down, and be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk, and use extra caution in hard-to-see conditions, like at night or in bad weather.
Accidents happen; that's reality. However, efforts taken by cities like Leonia to make roads safer for pedestrians may help prevent serious injuries or fatalities from car crashes. Everyone has been a pedestrian at some point in their lives. If all it takes to keep people on their feet is stopping at a red traffic light for 26 seconds longer, more cities need to take note in order to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
Chickens aren't the only ones trying to cross the road. Pedestrians walking on busy roads are constantly at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle, even when all they want is to get to the other side. If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian motor vehicle collision, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.