Kalamazoo police using grant to increase pedestrian safety

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-10 22:20:14-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich.--The state of Michigan is lending a helping hand to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety to help reduce the number of pedestrian crashes.

The department is one of three Michigan cities getting a grant from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) to pay officers overtime to patrol busy areas, looking for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists breaking the law. This initiative began on Sunday, marking the beginning of Pedestrian Enforcement Week.

Officials chose to launch this initiative during daylight saving time as drivers adjust to different daylight hours.

In a study by OHSP, Kalamazoo was identified with Detroit and Warren as having a higher than average rate of pedestrian crashes. According to the study, Kalamazoo had a 264 pedestrian crashes between 2013 and 2017. Detroit had 2,330 and Warren had 193.

“It’s important to take those extra precautions so you’re not one of those statistics," Sergeant David Moran tells FOX 17.

On Sunday, officials say a man in Kalamazoo was walking too close to the tracks when he was hit by an Amtrak train. He was lucky to survive, considering that 80 percent of pedestrians who are hit by vehicles in the state of Michigan are either killed or seriously injured.

That incident had one factor that Sgt. Moran says is extremely common when people are hit by vehicles: alcohol.

“Trains travel on tracks and if you don’t hear them or whatever reason, you’re impaired, you can be very seriously injured very quickly," Sgt. Moran says.

When you're out and about, Sgt. Moran says staying safe is a team effort between the driver and the pedestrian.

“It’s recommended that you make eye contact with the driver as you’re walking to make sure they actually see you," Sgt. Moran says. "Then you can react if something occurs.”

Moran says bicyclists must stop at stoplights, travel with traffic in the right lane and always use hand signals. Pedestrians should walk in the left lane when they cannot use a sidewalk. They should also never cross the street outside the crosswalk. Sgt. Moran says if a pedestrian gets hit while jaywalking, they will likely be held responsible, not the driver.

“Utilize common sense," Sgt. Moran says.