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Our View: ‘We are all pedestrians.’ A reminder for drivers to exercise caution. | COMMENTARY

October has been designated the first-ever national Pedestrian Safety Month by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tragically, September in Carroll County ended with a 16-year-old boy dying Wednesday night after being hit by a car driving on Md. 482 in Hampstead. The Hampstead teen was attempting to cross the road along with three other youths at Brodbeck Road just before 8 p.m. when a 2020 Toyota Corolla hit him, Maryland State Police said in a news release. The driver of the Corolla, a 24-year-old Hampstead man, remained at the scene until after the 16-year-old was taken to Carroll Hospital, where he died.

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Two nights earlier, a pedestrian was seriously injured after being hit by a car in Westminster. The pedestrian, a 46-year-old man, was hit by a black 2017 Honda Civic in the area of Englar Road and Monroe Street, according to a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office news release. The investigation found that a 19-year-old Westminster man was driving the Civic north on Englar Road when he hit the pedestrian, who was wearing dark clothes and was crossing the road but not in a crosswalk.

It is not uncommon for a pedestrian to be struck by a car, truck or SUV in Carroll. Trying to beat traffic across roads like Md. 140 in Westminster has resulted in numerous accidents over the years, including a fatality in January following one in June 2019.

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On Brodbeck Road, not far from the site of Wednesday’s collision, a 31-year-old man died from injuries after being the victim of a hit-and-run accident in February 2019, for which the driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but 8 suspended, for negligent vehicular manslaughter.

Automobiles weigh thousands of pounds and pedestrians, whether crossing or walking or jogging on the shoulder, are vulnerable.

In 2018, there were 6,283 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States, according to the NHTSA. That number has grown by about 50% over the past decade. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 17% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, equating to a traffic-related pedestrian death every 84 minutes. Alcohol use, either by the driver or the pedestrian, is a factor in 48% of the fatalities, according to the NHTSA.

The aim of Pedestrian Safety Month is to remind drivers to always be on the lookout for pedestrians.

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“With this designation of October as Pedestrian Safety Month, the Department is affirming its commitment to working closely with our state and local partners to make our roads safer for pedestrians,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a news release.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens said: “At some point in the day, we are all pedestrians — especially right now. ... Everyone has a role to play in ensuring pedestrian safety. We must keep working to reduce pedestrian deaths from traffic crashes and this first-ever Pedestrian Safety Month will help save lives in communities across the country.”

We urge drivers to be alert and cognizant of pedestrians at all times, exercising particular caution at night. We urge pedestrians to obey signs and signals, to cross only in crosswalks, to walk on sidewalks and to watch out for cars. And we urge drivers and pedestrians alike to always refrain from using alcohol or drugs and from looking down at electronic devices while on, or beside, our roadways.

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