Report: Nearly 1 in 3 DC-area traffic deaths were on foot or bike

Nearly one-third of the people killed in traffic crashes in the D.C. area last year were pedestrians or bicyclists, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said Monday.

Traffic was down on area roads in 2020 because of the pandemic, but 98 people on bikes or on foot were killed in crashes, 29% of the total, the council said in a statement.

The numbers come at the beginning of the Street Smart campaign, which runs through May 16. The program features stepped-up enforcement of traffic safety laws that protect pedestrians and bicyclists, including the law that drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Violations can lead to fines of up to $500 and points on a driver’s license.

Safety tips from the council:

For drivers

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • When turning, yield to people walking and biking.
  • Look for bicyclists before opening your door.
  • Allow at least 3 feet when passing bikes.
  • Avoid using your cellphone, and never text while driving.

For pedestrians

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
  • Use the pushbuttons.
  • Wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Before crossing, look left, right and left again.
  • Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
  • Watch out for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using your cellphone while you’re crossing the street.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution.

For bicyclists

  • Obey signs and signals.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Ride in a straight line at least 3 feet from parked cars.
  • Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.

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Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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