Jed Boal ReportingThis week you've seen the impact of a recent flurry of auto-pedestrian crashes, two people killed, a half-dozen more hurt. A look at state statistics paints a dangerous picture of the problem. It appears Utah has a long way to go to become a safer state for pedestrians.
It's been a dangerous time for pedestrians; actually it's an ongoing problem. These deaths, these crashes can and should be prevented -- that's the view of the state department of health.
Teddy Windler crossed 39th South every day. Last week he was hit by two cars and killed.
Lynn Green, Victim's Cousin: "It's not the first time something like this has happened around here. Something needs to be done."
Windler's friends and family gathered this week to remember him.
Tonissa Murdock, Victim's Niece: "There needs to be a crosswalk and a light at this street. I refuse to let another person be killed on this street. My uncle Teddy makes five, and that's the end of the line."
It's downright dangerous to cross a street. Theron Jeppson analyzes pedestrian-automobile crashes for the Utah Department of Health. The recent numbers do not surprise him.
Theron Jeppson, Utah Department of Health: "It's not really an alarming number. For some reason these incidents received more media attention, so it's become, it's been put out there in the public eye."
But these numbers are alarming. For the decade from 1994 to 2003, Utah's pedestrian fatality rate was the 21st highest in the nation. 403 pedestrians were killed.
Theron Jeppson, Utah Department of Health: “There’s an average of 40 pedestrians killed a year.”
Eleven-percent of those killed were four-years-old or younger.
Theron Jeppson: "It's important for parents to teach their children, don't just look left, right, left; really look left, right, left and make sure no cars are coming."
As drivers, we need to slow down, especially in neighborhoods and near schools. We need to yield to all pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections. And we need to stop before the crosswalk, not in it.
Pedestrian safety is improving in some areas. Despite recent crashes, stats show Salt Lake City is safer after introducing flags at crosswalks, pedestrian countdown timers, and stiffer fines. The Surface Transportation Policy Project reports pedestrian injury crashes dropped 31percent in Salt Lake City in the last three years, from 177 to 119.