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Drive With Care, Walk Aware

The City of Seattle has launched its fourth year of the Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign with a team of safety elves on the streets of downtown reminding visitors, employees and residents to be super safe. Posters displayed in store windows, bus ads and large billboards use bright neon colors to share the message “Drive with Care. Walk Aware.”  Additional traffic enforcement by the Seattle Police Department is also occurring in tandem with the education campaign. 

“Downtown Seattle is a great place to be during the holidays,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “People come to ride the carousel, shop and enjoy great entertainment. To make sure everyone stays safe and enjoys their visit, I encourage drivers and pedestrians to slow down and stay alert.” 

Crashes between cars and pedestrians increase during dark rainy months and holiday activities add to the distractions. The biggest causes of collisions in the Center City are motorists failing to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks, or attempting to make left turns as pedestrians are crossing. By taking a few simple steps whether you’re traveling as a pedestrian or driving a car, you can make sure you arrive at your destination safely and enjoy your downtown visit. 

Tips for driving safely

  • Plan ahead and don’t drive if you plan to drink.
  • Travel the speed limit. Faster  speeds can lead to more serious injuries if you’re involved in a crash
  • Focus on the road – you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if texting while driving
  • Don’t block the box
  • Stop for pedestrians – it’s the law in Washington State
  • Always look for pedestrians and cyclists when attempting a turn
  • Never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk—assume they are stopped for a pedestrian 

Tips for walking safely

  • Use the sidewalk
  • Wear bright clothing at night so you can be more easily seen
  • Use marked crosswalks whenever possible
  • At signals, start crossing the street only when you have the “walk” signal
  • Watch for traffic even in a marked crosswalk with the “walk” signal – make sure approaching drivers see you
  • Don’t be a distracted walker—turn off headphones and pay attention when crossing the street

Looking for a way to spread safety messages to a large group of people, the city formed Seattle Safety Elves. The Safety Elves are dressed in bright neon clothing and dance-walk along the streets of downtown while handing out safety information.  Elf bios explaining why they love safety are available on the Seattle Department of Transportation’s website

“Downtown’s holiday festivities attract thousands of additional visitors, many for the first time, to our city sidewalks,” said Randy Hurlow, Downtown Seattle Association Vice President. “The city’s holiday pedestrian safety campaign provides an important reminder for everyone during the hustle and bustle of the season to take it slow and watch out for others so that their city holiday experience is memorable – and safe.” 

As part of the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign, targeted enforcement efforts will occur at locations with past high collision rates in the Center City area between December 4, 2012 and January 17, 2013.  The main goal of enforcement is to deter unsafe behaviors of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, and to encourage people, whether they are driving or walking, to obey traffic laws and share the road safely. 

The campaign is being run in conjunction with the new City of Seattle Road Safety campaign, Be Super Safe, which launched last summer and is an ongoing effort to reach zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

At the conclusion of the Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign a survey will be conducted to see how effective messages were in changing behavior and collision data analyzed. The results will be used in 2013 to further develop the campaign to keep pedestrians and motorists safe.

The city plans on conducting the safety campaign for five years and if successful move it into other neighborhoods.

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