Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Safety


Pedestrian safety is an issue that affects the entire community; young and old, drivers and walkers, in the day and at night. Many unnecessary injuries and fatalities occur as a result of intoxication or inattentiveness of either the driver or the pedestrian. The roadways should be safe places for everyone regardless of their transportation mode. To reach this goal, laws related to pedestrian safety must be enforced without reservation, and citizens must be educated on the perils facing pedestrians and how they can help make the road a safer environment for those traveling by foot.

Pedestrians, Walk Smart! Drivers, Do your Part!


Tales of the boy who did not stop, look and listen.
Click here to view the Tales of the Road video.

Maryland Fast Facts:

  • In 2008, 112 pedestrians were killed, accounting for 20% of all fatalities in Maryland.

  • In 70% of the pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrians were at fault, according to police crash reports.

  • 73% of the fatal pedestrian-involved crashes occur in the dark.

  • Of the pedestrians killed, 40% were alcohol-impaired.

  • Over 75% of the pedestrians killed were males.


National Statistics:

Pedestrian Safety
  • There were 59,000 pedestrians injured and 4,902 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2009.

  • On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 120 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes.

  • Thirty-six percent of the 354 young (under age 16) pedestrian fatalities occurred in crashes between 3 pm and 7 pm. Alcohol involvement — either for the driver or the pedestrian — was reported in 48 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.


Maryland Laws:

These laws, along with explanatory diagrams, can be accessed here. The driver of a vehicle must stop for a pedestrian in a marked or unmarked crosswalk when:

  • At crosswalks and intersections without signals:
    • The pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling.
    • The pedestrian is approaching within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling.(§ 21-502 (a)(2))

  • At intersections with signals:
    • When proceeding on a green signal, drivers turning right or left shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.
    • When turning right on red after stopping, drivers shall yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.(§ 21-202 (c), (d) & (k))


Safe Routes to School

The Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration manages the Maryland Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, which utilizes federal funding. The grants are awarded annually to local government and non-profit organizations on a competitive basis based on need and problem identification.

Making Walking to Maryland Schools Safer

  • The SRTS program:
    • brings together parents and school administrators and teachers, along with other community groups and agencies, to improve the safety of children who walk or bicycle to school;
    • enables and encourages children in grades K-8, including those with physical limitations, to walk and bicycle to school;
    • makes walking and bicycling to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from a very early age; and
    • facilitates projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of elementary and middle schools.
  • Funds can be used for engineering improvements, such as upgrades to crosswalks, traffic signals and signage around schools, as well as for educational and enforcement efforts.
  • Grants are distributed to state, local and regional agencies, as well as non-profit organizations.
  • Approximately $16 million in grants have been awarded to 20 jurisdictions around the State.

Why Safe Routes to School?

Safe Routes to School
  • As traffic volumes have increased, parents have felt less comfortable letting their children walk or ride bicycles to school.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 85 percent of children’s trips to school are made by car or school bus; only 13 percent of school trips are made by walking or bicycling.
  • The increase in car trips to schools has added to growing traffic congestion, which creates gridlock near school drop-off and pick-up lines; other drivers stuck in these traffic jams become impatient, even angry, which fuels aggressive driving.
  • Walking to school helps children feel more connected to their community and increases their confidence that school is a safe place for learning.
  • Teachers report that students who walk and bike to school arrive more alert and ready to work.
  • On average, 100 people die each year in pedestrian-related incidents. In 2006, more than 690 pedestrians younger than 16 were struck by motor vehicles in Maryland.


Street Smart

Street Smart is an annual public education, awareness, and behavioral change campaign in the Washington, DC, suburban Maryland, and northern Virginia area. The campaign is dedicated to educating the public of pedestrian safety issues and encouraging safe travel by foot. The program is coordinated by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), and is supported by federal funds made available through state governments, and funding from some TPB member jurisdictions.

Street Smart - Baltimore

In Baltimore, Street Smart works toward their mission through broad-range media coverage as well as innovative marketing techniques that convey location-specific messages to high-incident communities. Information detailing the realities of pedestrian safety is brought to citizens’ attention through radio and web-TV public safety announcements, coverage in blogs and websites such as, electronic advertisements, and newspaper press releases. Roadside billboards and street banners remind travelers to share the road with pedestrians. Street Smart annually campaigns in Baltimore City, where over 30 percent of all pedestrian crashes occur, as well as one chosen county where GIS technology has demonstrated significant hot spots of pedestrian crashes.

July 2010 Street Smart Campaign

In 2010 Street Smart has targeted Baltimore County for intensive campaigning due to a hot spot of pedestrian crashes along route 702 in Essex, as well as various other areas of increased pedestrian safety issues. A high visibility street team will represent Street Smart at selected hot spots, directing both motorists and pedestrians to the importance of sharing the road. As part of an innovative guerilla marketing campaign aiming to personalize the safety message and grasp individuals’ attention, “Post-It Notes” citing location-specific pedestrian crash statistics will be distributed to houses in neighborhoods and advertised at local gas station pumps. These messages, such as “Within a ½ mile radius of your house, 40 pedestrians were injured and 3 were killed,” aim to educate the public that pedestrian safety is a real issue that directly affects them and their community.

Hot spot location maps are developed using geospatial technology and distributed to law enforcement officers. Following the intensive campaigning and media coverage is coordinated enforcement of pedestrian safety laws at hot spots, as well as post-campaign surveys that evaluate the success of the campaign and help plan for the future. Telephone and internet survey results from spring and fall 2009 show that people are hearing and remembering the Street Smart messages.

Street Smart - Washington, DC

Street SmartThe spring 2010 Street Smart DC campaign ran from March 15 to April 15. The kick-off press event occurred on March 23rd near the intersection of Sligo Avenue and Chicago Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. The event received far-reaching media coverage and featured a speed and stopping distance demonstration that provided an exciting way to capture the attention of new audiences and educate all citizens on the factors involved in pedestrian safety, such as how long it would take a vehicle to stop while driving at various speeds to avoid a pedestrian crash.


Videos illustrating the speed and stopping distance demonstrations are available online to continue to educate and market the message of pedestrian safety. This publicity event was highly successful, and similar events will occur in the future and continue to draw attention to the Street Smart campaign.


Safety Tips

For Pedestrians: Walk Smart

  • Street SmartBe predictable. Stay off freeways and restricted zones. Use sidewalks where provided. Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.

  • Crosswalks and traffic lights don’t stop cars! The WALK signal does not mean it is safe to cross. It only means it is your turn to cross. Check to make sure all traffic has come to a stop before crossing.

  • Look before stepping past stopped vehicles—They may be blocking your view of moving traffic.

  • Wear bright clothes to be seen day or night. At night, wear reflective materials.

  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the road facing traffic.

  • Stand on the side of the road while waiting for the bus and always stand at least 10 feet away from where the bus will stop.

  • Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do a person's ability to drive.

  • Try to make eye contact with the driver(s) to make sure they see you before you begin to cross

For Drivers: Do Your Part
  • Always come to a complete stop at the stop line.

  • Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk, even if it is not marked. When you stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.

  • Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.

  • When you are turning, you often will have to wait for a "gap" in traffic. Beware that while you are watching for that "gap," pedestrians may have moved into your intended path.

  • Be extra attentive and slow down in school and work zones where increased pedestrian presence is likely.

  • Keep your windshield clean for maximum visibility.


Resources and Links