Western MA residents address pedestrian safety - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Western MA residents address pedestrian safety

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A recently completed study by Smart Growth America showed that Massachusetts accounted for nearly 18 percent of pedestrian deaths in the United States over a 10 year period.

While Northampton police say downtown can be a particularly dangerous place for pedestrians, they also have ideas that could make things safer.

Officer Michael McLaughlin is a member of the Northampton Police Department's accident reconstruction team.

So far this year, while none have been fatal, the team has handled nine accidents involving either pedestrians or bicyclists.

McLaughlin said while the safety of cyclists would improve by walking their bikes across crosswalks, technology is a big factor when it comes to pedestrians.

"They're often texting, talking on their phones, not paying attention, taking for granted that the crosswalk is there and they're going to be safe," McLaughlin said.

"I think that plays a huge role on both sides," said Elsa Seterdahl, an Amherst resident who visits Northampton on a weekly basis. "I think the drivers and the people crossing the road aren't always paying attention."

Seterdahl and Hannah Lebowitz were two of the many Western Massachusetts residents walking in the downtown area on Thursday.

Those residents had ideas on what could lead to a decrease in accidents.

"Lights would be helpful because I know for cars it can be sort of scary to come through, or people really have to be alert," said Lebowitz, an Amherst resident.

"If anything, a crossing guard," Amherst resident Cody Fry stated. "That would be a very effective way to make sure cars stop. A big red stop sign, you can't really miss that."

According to the study done by Smart Growth America, between 2003 and 2012 Hampden County led Western Mass with 62 pedestrian fatalities, Hampshire County had 11 fatalities while Franklin County had six.

McLaughlin said there is one big thing pedestrians and cyclists can do to protect themselves.

"If that pedestrian will take a couple of extra seconds, look at that operator, and make sure they see them, they will stop and proceed safely," McLaughlin said.

According to the 10-year study, there were 4,015 pedestrian fatalities nationwide.

Of the 716 in Massachusetts, the Boston area accounted for two-thirds of those deaths.

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