AKRON, Ohio — October is pedestrian awareness month, which coincides with the most dangerous month of the year to be a pedestrian, according to an Akron Metropolitan Transportation Study.
You’re more likely to be hit by a car this month than any other time of year, particularly in the Akron area.
AMATS released its regular analyses of pedestrian crash records from 2018-2020. While there was a decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, city officials couldn’t help but notice a significant spike in the month of October.
“Every month varies a little bit, but it's quite a spike it. It increases by about 50 percent,” said AMATS transportation engineer David Pulay.
While the Halloween holiday does contribute to the increase, Pulay believes it’s a combination of good weather as the daylight hours grow shorter.
“We are having beautiful weather like we have had this week and last week, and people are still very active,” Pulay said. “People are out walking, running, and biking, walking their dogs and such. But we have less daylight and especially the mornings now are very dark.”
From 2018 to 2020, AMATS recorded 149 pedestrian-related crashes in the region. Seventy-one of those crashes were in the month of October, compared to 14 in the month of May during that three-year period.
“If you looked at a map, if you plotted all the pedestrian crashes, they would be they would kind of just be spread out kind of throughout our area. Now, of course, they are proportional to population density,” Pulay said.
Some cities are taking this annual data as evidence to make improvements. In Kent, the superintendent of engineering points to projects being planned on East Main Street, where a significant number of pedestrian crashes have occurred.
Additionally, Kent State University is making changes to signs at 17 different intersections to improve pedestrian safety.
“We're using this data to try to implement improvements and to also incorporate pedestrian improvements in projects that are already planned,” Pulay said. “Believe that our communities in our AMATS region are always striving to improve active transportation facilities, sidewalks, bike lanes, making crossings safer.”
In 2020, the Ohio Department of Transportation set aside $10 million for a statewide pedestrian safety program in 450 dangerous locations. Akron was included in that group and received $800,000.
Pulay said the number one thing pedestrians can do to protect themselves is to stay on sidewalks and wear bright and reflective clothing, especially if it’s raining or if you’re walking at dawn or dusk.
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