Safety on the roads needs to be taken more seriously [Editorial]

It would be easy to be dismissive of Street Smart, the cleverly named campaign being employed in Harford County to promote safe driving.

After all, does it really do much good to hand out pamphlets on safe driving to people when they're driving? Isn't it a bit of a distraction for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists when someone is handing out pamphlets of any kind?

Healthy Harford, the not-for-profit organization formed to promote healthy lifestyles in the county, secured a $5,000 grant for the effort, which involves sending people dressed in appropriately bright clothes out to distribute roadway safety information.

The volunteers were out in Bel Air on Friday, and were scheduled to be on Route 40 in Edgewood Wednesday, Sept. 4, and on Route 24 near James Avenue in Bel Air on Sept. 9. These areas were chosen because they are places where pedestrian traffic is substantial.

It turns out, according to Bari Klein, of Healthy Harford, the county is fairly safe, statistically speaking, in terms of pedestrian accidents because "nobody walks."

The reality in Harford County is, however, traffic safety, whether it involves pedestrians, bicyclists or drivers of motor vehicles, is something that needs a good deal of attention.

There are some basics that possibly have been forgotten, or at last a refresher may be in order.

When walking or jogging along a roadway, for example, it is best to face oncoming traffic (that is to say, walk on the left side of the road.)

The Street Smart folks also point out that state law requires drivers to stop their vehicles whenever a pedestrian is in a crosswalk. It's an often ignored law that's rarely enforced.

There are plenty of others. Speed limits are posted everywhere, but routinely ignored. Stop signs mean anything but stop. Distracted driving is a major problem.

On the whole, it's too easy for pedestrians and drivers alike to forget that a motor vehicle is a potentially deadly device that needs to be treated with the same level of attention as a loaded gun.

Sure, it's easy to be dismissive of efforts like Street Smart for potentially causing distractions on roadways. Then again, the Street Smart people are just as likely to be ignored as any pedestrian and, unfortunately, their message is too, at least by most people.

Hopefully, they'll at least get through to a few people.

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