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Campaign Urges Drivers, Cyclists, Pedestrians to Watch Out for Each Other

The Street Smart campaign planned an Arlington awareness event for Tuesday afternoon.

Through May 13, police in Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland will put an extra focus on drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who violate traffic safety laws as part of the Street Smart campaign.

Motorists and cyclists who do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, along with pedestrians who jaywalk, can face fines of up to $500.

The campaign will be responsible for a series of "tired faces" ads that will appear on buses and transit stops throughout the region — faces with large tire treads overlaid on them designed to remind people to look out for each other.

It follows the death of Ruby Whitfield, a district resident who was killed in March as she was crossing a street after a church meeting.

Last year saw 70 pedestrian and bicycle fatalities, more than 26 percent of the 3,033 crashes reported throughout the greater Washington area, according to the Street Smart campaign.

So far, this year has brought another 14 pedestrian and two bicyclists fatalities.

"Most people do not stop to think how vulnerable pedestrians are on our streets and sidewalks," Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement. "But the reality is that we must protect pedestrians from cars and other vehicles, because when they collide with a pedestrian, the pedestrian never wins."

The Street Smart campaign, working with BikeArlington and WalkArlington, planned a public awareness campaign for Tuesday afternoon on Columbia Pike to help raise awareness.

Safety Tips from Street Smart:

If you're driving...

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit
  • Look twice for people in crosswalks and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles
  • Yield to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections when you're turning
  • Allow three feet when passing bicyclists
  • Look for cyclists and cars before you open your door
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving

If you're walking...

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available
  • Wait for the “Walk” signal to cross the street
  • Watch for turning vehicles. Before crossing look left, right, and left again
  • Be seen! If you’re walking after dark or in bad weather, make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing light clothing or something reflective
  • Don’t text while you’re crossing the street
  • If you’re on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution

If you're biking...

  • Obey all traffic signs and traffic signals
  • Ride in the direction of traffic, at least a car door width away from parked cars
  • Use hand signals so drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians know what you’re going to do
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Use lights if you’re riding at times of darkness
  • If you’re on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution
  • Slow down and watch for pedestrians on sidewalks, trails and in crosswalks

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