New initiative aims to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Over the last four years almost 80 pedestrians have been killed in Lexington, Louisville, and Madison County. Those are the three areas being targeted by a new team working to lower that number.

"Unfortunately, the fatalities are just the tip of the iceberg," said Robert McCool, the program manager of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center.

Robert McCool is on the six person team, along with traffic engineers, police officers, and health professionals. They recently returned from a training workshop in Washington.

McCool says the majority of injuries they see involving pedestrians and vehicles could have been avoided.

"Most of the time someone, a driver, the pedestrian, either made a very serious mistake or actually violated a traffic law," he said.

A $40,000 grant from the Safe States Alliance will help the group continue the work back in Kentucky. McCool says educating drivers and walkers is the first step to reducing the number of pedestrians killed or injured.

"We are much more aware of vehicles because they are larger and present a threat to us as drivers," he said.

But McCool says the behavior of some pedestrians can also lead to injury. He says crossing the road anywhere other than a crosswalk can be dangerous.

"Things like walking at night in dark clothing, which isn't against the law, but it's a bad idea if you're walking along a busy highway."

In Lexington the number of injuries for pedestrians rose from 2012 to 2013 and it's currently still trending up.

"Most of us are pedestrians multiple times a day, but we don't identify ourselves that way," he said.

Currently the team is collecting data and recruiting local representatives for each of the three targeted communities.