Campaign Encourages Safe Pedestrian, Driver Behavior in Arlington

Posted: August 9, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

George Mason’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health and Old Dominion University’s Psychology Department have teamed together to promote pedestrian safety in Arlington County. A pedestrian safety initiative that began with a pilot study last fall recently moved into the educational phase with the distribution of pedestrian and driver safety literature at four intersections in Arlington. The locations–Columbia Pike and South Courthouse Road, Columbia Pike and South Greenbrier Street, Columbia Pike and South Walter Reed Drive, and Columbia Pike and South Glebe Road–were all identified as intersections with a history of pedestrian/vehicle collisions.

Last week, brochures were distributed in English and Spanish using the slogan “Walk This Way” during the lunch and evening rush hours when pedestrian and vehicle traffic are at their height. Police and county public service aides were also present to counsel pedestrians and drivers to observe all traffic laws and maintain safe behavior. A second educational campaign runs from Aug. 5 to 7 at the same locations.

These four intersections also were the subject of a two-phase study conducted last fall and earlier this summer. The data collected in this study showed that 44.5 percent of drivers entering an intersection did not move their heads to look for pedestrians or other traffic, 32.6 percent of pedestrians who looked before crossing an intersection looked the wrong way, and 26.7 percent of pedestrians entered an intersection against a solid “Don’t Walk” signal.

The study and educational campaign are cosponsored by the Arlington County Police, the Arlington County Department of Human Services, and the Arlington County Department of Planning, Housing, and Development in partnership with George Mason and Old Dominion. A grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles funds the initiative. For more information, contact David Anderson, director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Health, at (703) 993-3697 or danderso@gmu.edu.

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