CDOT Deploys One-Day Safety Campaign Involving Little Green Men


“Too many people are driving fast through intersections, are on their phones or just aren’t being safe around pedestrians,” says Sam Cole, traffic safety communications manager for CDOT. “Because of that reality, we need pedestrians to keep their heads up and alert when crossing the street. That’s why we need campaigns that also raise awareness about pedestrian safety.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation put “neon navigators” — little plastic green guys with red hats and orange flags — at five intersections around the city this week where serious injuries and fatal crashes are often reported.The navigators, which were rolled out on September 26 as part of a one-day campaign, are assigned to do one thing: draw attention to the high number of pedestrian deaths that have occurred in Denver and around the state this year.The navigators were placed around the metro area as part of a CDOT call to action on pedestrian safety in both Denver and Aurora. So far this year, 81 pedestrians have died in the state — including nineteen in Denver and eight in Aurora. All five intersections where the navigators were located on Tuesday were in the two cities.In Denver, they were positioned at Wynkoop Street and 18th Street, Federal Boulevard and Howard Place, and Broadway and 6th Avenue. The Aurora navigators were at East Montview Boulevard and Ursula Street and East 16th Place and Victor Street.The neon sidewalk buddies included signs telling drivers to slow down and QR codes designed for pedestrians to scan with their phone cameras to get more information about safety. Ironically, decreasingcell phone use is one of the tips CDOT gives both drivers and pedestrians for safety.“Avoid distractions, such as using a phone, while driving,” it urged in a press release announcing the navigators.“Avoid phone use while crossing streets,” the agency encouraged.Pedestrian fatalities are at an all-time high in the state, according to CDOT, so it wants to get more people to be safer on the roads. However, this call to action is not part of CDOT’s new Advancing Transportation Safety Program , or ATSP, which was announced in January.“Not per se,” Cole tellswhen asked if this is part of the initiative. “It’s a one-day effort to kick-start the conversation about pedestrian safety. It comes on the heels of a particularly deadly weekend for pedestrians in the state.”In Denver alone, four people were killed over the weekend. The ATSP has four emphasis areas, all with the goal of reaching zero fatalities on the state’s roadways after there were 745 in 2022. The areas include Safe Driving, Safe People, Safe Roads and Post-Crash Care.“A fundamental part of the ATS initiative is leveraging partnerships and programs already in place,” says Melodie Clayton, an engineer with CDOT’s traffic safety and engineering services team. “So while this particular pedestrian safety effort is not a direct product of ATS, collaboration with CDOT Safety Communications is paramount to the success of the initiative.While the state is on pace to far surpass the record of 115 pedestrian deaths reported in 2022, Clayton says the ATSP is still making progress on bringing people together in the transportation safety space.The Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan , which is designed to protect students walking and rolling to school, is being updated currently and done by an ATSP partner. Clayton says the Intersection Control Assessment Tool, which helps evaluate the safety of various intersections and suggest strategies for safety, is as well.“Additionally, the Safe Roads Emphasis Area working group is also working on researching and piloting some promising new safety measures,” he adds. “Advancing Transportation Safety is a multidisciplinary effort and it is truly remarkable to be able to bring together so many partners and the valuable work that they are doing to save lives on Colorado’s roadways.”Regardless, with traffic deaths going up year after year — and pedestrian deaths at a 12.5 percent increase from 2022 — it’s clear that more must be done, and Cole says CDOT knows it.For now, the state-run department is trying to keep pedestrian safety on people’s minds, with the hope that more Coloradans pay attention to the problem and come up with better outcomes. Cole shares that next year, CDOT will launch a month-long ad campaign to put more eyes on the problem.“Until the ad campaign on pedestrian safety launches, we will do what we can to keep the conversation going,” Cole says. “This will involve using social media to spread the message and using CDOT’s digital road signs to promote safety around pedestrians. …We will continue to use small tactics like the Neon Navigators.”


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