Road User Safety

three people on walking path, including a child, man in a wheelchair and woman, holding hands

 

With a new school year, holidays and shorter daylight hours, autumn is a great time to review traffic safety rules! In Vermont, there tend to be more crashes involving pedestrians as it gets darker earlier, but these crashes are preventable!

 

 

Review this Back to School Safety Checklist with your family—even if you don’t have any school-aged children there is helpful information for people who drive. Remember to slow down and share the road!

It's not too late to join in on the benefits of active transportation this school year! Find more information through your local Safe Routes to School and Way to Go! program!

Brush up on your Driving at Night knowledge as daylight hours decrease.

When making plans for menus and socializing this Thanksgiving, don't forget to plan for safe travel. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure you have arranged for a designated driver or a safe way to get home.

If you plan to walk after your meal, it is a good idea to pack reflective gear or a flashlight to help people driving spot you on dark country roads where there are often narrow shoulders. 

Review and share this Parking Lot Safety poster with data and tips for people walking and driving.

Background Information

Injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, are a top contributor to preventable deaths each year nationwide and in Vermont. Vermont’s age-adjusted injury rate is higher than the national average in recent Vermont Vital Statistics data for 2013 and 2014. In Vermont, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death from injury-related causes, after falls.

Seat Belts

  • In 2016, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,688 lives for occupants age 5 years and older.
  • An estimated 328 lives (child occupants 4 old and younger) were saved using child restraints, and 1,859 lives were saved by the use of motorcycle helmets.
  • The national seat belt use rate is 90.1%. In 2016, another 2,456 lives would have been saved in the US if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts. Vermont's reported observed seat belt use was 80% in 2016, 10% lower than the national average.

Pedestrian and Bicycle

  • 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the US in 2016, representing 16% of all traffic fatalities. This is an increase of 9% from pedestrian fatalities in 2015.
  • From 2012-2016 there were 29 pedestrian fatalities in Vermont.
  • In 2016, Vermont had a rate of 2.41 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population, which is the 11th highest in the nation.
  • Vermont is one of seven states where over 10% of our pedestrian fatalities involve children ages 15 and younger (2014-2016).
  • Vermont is one of eleven states where over 20% of our pedestrian fatalities involve adults ages 70 and older (2014-2016). 
  • From 2012-2016, there were 5 cyclist fatalities in Vermont.
  • Not all injuries result in death, and from 2010-2014, an average of 193 pedestrians and an average of 72 bicyclists were hospitalized or visited Vermont emergency departments each year as the result of being struck by a motor vehicle. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data from 2014-2016 showed that 302 injuries to Vermont resident pedestrians and 505 injuries to Vermont resident cyclists resulted in an EMS call.

Active transportation, such as walking and biking, and public transportation can improve health through increased physical activity levels and reduced environmental impacts. Communities designed for the safety of vulnerable road users, especially people walking, biking, and using public transport, will be safer for all users.

Data

Vermont Data Briefs (2014-2016 data)

Vermont BRFSS Data Briefs (2011 data)

  • Physical Activity: "People who consider their own community unsafe for walking are less likely to do enough physical activity than those who consider their community safe for walking (47% vs. 60%)."
  • Seatbelts

National Pedestrian Data (2016 data) 

National Cyclist Data (2016 data)

Vermont Public Crash Data Query Tool

Vermont Programs and Grants

AARP Community Action Grants

Better Connections Program

Bicycle and Pedestrian Program

Municipal Planning Grant Program

Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program

Vermont Highway Safety Alliance

Vermont Safe Routes to School Program

 

Current funding opportunities:

Vermont Arts Council Animating Infrastructure Grants for integrating art into infrastructure projects to make communities more vibrant and walkable. Deadline for letter of intent is December 10, 2018. 

2019 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program for communities to improve the safe access to parks, which can benefit community members of all ages. Deadline for applications is December 10, 2018.

Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities pilot grant program for communities seeking to leverage their outdoor recreation resources. Deadline for applications is December 14, 2018. 

What can I do to make my community a safer place to walk?

Learn and obey the laws that apply to driving, walking and biking, and teach them to children.

Attend community events and meetings to voice your opinion on how to improve walking infrastructure and pedestrian safety.

Discuss pedestrian safety issues with neighbors, law enforcement officers, political candidates and elected officials.

Build awareness and support for safe driving speeds within your community.

Help organize a block party, safety campaign, walk audit or a pop-up event to raise awareness of safety issues on our roads and promote action. 

Sign up for newsletters from walkability advocates to stay up to date on national or local issues surrounding walking and mobility.

Report issues with sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, bus stops or other walking infrastructure. Not sure who to contact? Check out some options below!

 

Who Can Help?

Public Works Departments

Regional Planning Contacts

VTrans District Contacts (for state-controlled routes)

SeeClickFix (available in Burlington, Essex Junction and Shelburne)

Safe Routes to School and Way to Go! Regional Experts

Local Motion Community Sign Up and Suggestion Box

*Remember to contact your local police department first in an emergency*

 

Check the Vermont Public Crash Data Query Tool to assess road safety in your community

 

AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit 

Neighborhood Wayfinding Assessment

Safe Kids Worldwide Take Action Toolkit: How to Fix an Unsafe School Zone

Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP)

Toolkit for the Assessment of Bus Stop Accessibility and Safety

Traffic Operations FAQ (includes questions like 'How do I get a crosswalk?' and 'How are speed limits set?')