‘Safety’ campaigns pre-blame pedestrians for getting hit by cars

Few words anger pedestrian advocates more than a transportation agency telling would-be walkers to “wear bright clothing.”

State and local governments often trot out the advice as days get darker and pedestrian fatalities become more common. The guidance typically comes with other shop-worn suggestions like “carry a flashlight at night,” “make eye contact with drivers,” “avoid distractions” or “cross streets at sidewalks.”

However helpful the suggestions are, pedestrian advocates object to the idea that the onus for the safety of walkers should be on the walkers themselves, rather than the drivers who act dangerously or the road designers who create unsafe conditions for pedestrians.

In recent years, more government agencies have directed their safety warnings toward drivers, especially as the Biden administration has pushed for a “safe systems” approach on road safety, said Jane Terry, the vice president of government affairs at the National Safety Council.

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