A new crosswalk went up on Route 177 in Unionville a couple of months before the coronavirus disrupted our way of life. And we think that’s a very good thing. Even though traffic has since fallen since the stay-at-home order, it will eventually rise again. One trend we’re not looking forward to resuming is the increasing number of pedestrian accidents. According to a March 6 Hartford Courant article , pedestrian deaths in Connecticut increased by 20% between 2017 and 2018 and 2020 is off to an exceptionally deadly start. From Jan. 1 to the beginning of March, 15 pedestrians had been struck and killed in the state. Our cities and towns are being impacted. 

Why the increase? Some experts blame distracted drivers and larger, more powerful vehicles with increased speed. 

How can we fix this? Pass a new bill. Bicycle and pedestrian safety activists are urging state lawmakers to pass a sweeping bill that would:
  • Require motorists to grant the right of way to pedestrians who indicate that they intend to cross at a crosswalk. (Currently, the law only requires drivers to yield once pedestrians have entered the crosswalk.) 
  • Give cities and towns the ability to lower speed limits on local roads. 
  • Significantly raise the fines for those charged with using a cellphone while driving.
  • Prohibit “dooring,” the sudden opening of a car door in the path of an approaching bicyclist or pedestrian. (Connecticut is one of just nine states that do not have a law barring this practice, which can cause devasting injuries.)

What can we do right away to stop this trend? Pedestrians can use crosswalks or cross at the traffic light, and drivers can put down their phones and be 100% focused on the road. And we can all share this with someone we care about.