Safer Walking, Safer Driving

November 29, 1993

CORRECTING A CORRECTION: Did you ever have one of those days? In an editorial Nov. 29, we congratulated Westminster on its award for maintaining a 12-year streak without a pedestrian fatality. Afterward, it was brought to our attention that John Fisher was killed Nov. 4 while crossing Route 140. We published a correction Dec. 2, saying the streak had ended. Now we learn from the city police, that Mr. Fisher was struck 75 feet outside the city line. We are sorry for Mr. Fisher's tragic death, while we hope Westminster can sustain a remarkable streak that's still going.

Last Monday, we congratulated Westminster for its exceptional pedestrian safety record. It got an award from the Automobile Association of America for the fact that not one pedestrian had been killed Westminster in 12 years. We failed to note, however, that on Nov. 4 this streak ended. John Fisher, 41, died that evening while crossing Route 140. We hope his unfortunate death marks the start of another safe streak.

The towns of Westminster and Havre de Grace have gone more than a decade without a pedestrian traffic fatality. Certainly there's an element of good fortune or luck in the accomplishment. But that's not the main reason.


These communities in Carroll and Harford counties have made a concerted effort to raise public awareness and to engineer their towns so that pedestrian safety is enhanced.

For their efforts, they were recently honored with Safety Commendation/Achievement Awards by the American Automobile Association. That AAA program is 54 years old, begun in 1939 after the number of pedestrian deaths in the United States exceeded 12,400 for the year. Last year, the number of pedestrian traffic deaths was reduced to 5,546 -- the lowest total since 1975.

Communities that participate in the auto club's program are evaluated on law enforcement, accident records, traffic

engineering, safety legislation, school safety campaigns and active public education and awareness programs. Nationwide, more than 2,200 towns and cities had their efforts judged by a panel of national traffic safety experts from government and the private sector.

Westminster has gone 12 years without a pedestrian fatality. Its local emphasis on driving safety has been well recognized. It is among the Maryland communities regularly cited for awareness of seat belt use, for example, which extends to expanded awareness of overall safer driving.

In Havre de Grace, no pedestrian has died in a traffic accident in 11 years. School safety education efforts have been credited with teaching youngsters to be more careful and more cognizant of the dangers of moving vehicles.

The decline in pedestrian deaths reflects the reduction of overall motor vehicle accident fatalities. In 1992, the number of traffic-related deaths fell to 39,235, the lowest toll in 30 years despite a huge increase in the number of drivers and vehicles on the road.

Decreases in drunk-driving deaths, and greater use of seat belts and child-restraints are among the factors cited. But so, too, is the safety awareness promoted by communities such as Westminster and Havre de Grace, for the protection of pedestrians and motorists.

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