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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: City Steps up Pedestrian Safety Efforts

11/15/2006  5:00:00 PM

City Steps up Pedestrian Safety Efforts

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels and Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske today announced that the city is taking a series of immediate steps to improve pedestrian safety across Seattle in response to a spate of recent accidents.

The Seattle Police Department will step up enforcement of speed limits, negligent driving and other motor vehicle and pedestrian laws. The emphasis is designed to improve pedestrian safety by getting drivers to slow down and drive more cautiously, especially as the days grow shorter and winter weather sets in.

The city will install a mobile radar station near the West Seattle intersection where Tatsuo Nakata was hit Tuesday morning while crossing the street. Nakata, chief of staff for City Councilmember David Della, later died from his injuries. The city will also install signs in the area to remind drivers to watch for pedestrians.

Two other pedestrians were struck by cars and injured today while crossing streets in West Seattle and south of Downtown.

“Drivers especially must take responsibility for keeping our streets safe,” Nickels said. “When you are behind the wheel, a thoughtless moment can take a life. I’m calling on all drivers to slow down, follow the rules and stay aware.”

There were 30 serious pedestrian collisions, including nine fatalities, during the first nine months of this year. There were 26 serious pedestrian collisions and eight deaths in all of 2005.

“Safety is our highest priority,” said City Councilmember Jan Drago, chair of the Transportation Committee. “Whether we are driving or walking, we all need to slow down and become more aware of our surroundings. On these dark rainy days, pedestrians who are in a crosswalk should not assume that drivers can see them. We all must exercise extra caution and look out for each other.”

Nickels and Kerlikowske have directed an increase in enforcement in tandem with other pedestrian and traffic efforts already in place, such as the Red Light Camera Project, jaywalking emphasis patrols and crosswalk enforcement.

“With the holidays fast approaching, we understand that both drivers and pedestrians have many things on their mind as they go about their business. However, it is extremely important for drivers to focus on the task at hand and for pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings at all times,” said Kerlikowske.

To address the increase in car/pedestrian injury accidents, traffic officers will be paying close attention to the behaviors of both pedestrians and drivers. Officers will be looking for drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Pedestrians need to also be aware of their responsibility to cross streets safely and legally. Crossing against the light can result in a jaywalking ticket. The most common pedestrian violation is beginning to cross the street when the red hand is flashing.

The city has emphasized pedestrian safety in recent years. Last year, Nickels launched a 10-point pedestrian safety campaign to reduce accidents across the city. Since then, SDOT has restriped more than 700 crosswalks to improve visibility, erected new signs highlighting pedestrian safety, and improved numerous street crossings.

SPD established a red light traffic camera pilot program to reduce collisions at several major intersections, stiffened penalties for negligent driving, and stepped up enforcing pedestrian safety laws.

SDOT and SPD have also combined resources to reduce motor vehicle/pedestrian accidents in the heavily traveled Rainier Avenue South corridor.

Thanks to the citizens of Seattle, next year the “Bridging the Gap” transportation program will fund many pedestrian safety projects across the city. In the first two years, the city will build new sidewalks at high pedestrian locations near school and transit, install five to six new pedestrian traffic signals, replace up to 15 traditional pedestrian signals with countdown signals in the center city, restripe more than 600 crosswalks, build up to five miles of bike trails and work with schools on creating up to five safe routes to school.

Visit the mayor’s web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

Safety Tips for Drivers and Pedestrians


  • Never pass/overtake a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
  • Headlights should be on at all times. It helps pedestrians and other motorists see you.
  • Do not drive with distractions (cell phones, eating, etc.)
  • Pay attention to and abide by all speed limits.
  • Look ahead for potential dangers or people in the roadway or crosswalks; shift your attention well ahead of the hood of your car.
  • Stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks: on a two-lane road, the pedestrian must be completely across the roadway before you begin moving again. On a multi-lane road, you must stop for pedestrians when they are within ONE LANE OF YOUR DIRECTION OF TRAVEL.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way at ALL intersections, whether in a marked crosswalk or not.
  • Always yield to pedestrians upon making turns at intersection
  • Know your surroundings while you drive, be a good defensive driver. Think outside your car.
  • On bright days wear sunglasses or use your sun visor to minimize bright glare.
  • Don’t let your passengers interfere with our driving.
  • Always have ample driving time, try not to be in a rush—a patient driver is a safe driver.


  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the roadway, always walk facing traffic.
  • Dress to be seen. Wearing bright/light colored clothing helps drivers see you. Reflective clothing is the best.
  • Cross streets only at marked crosswalks or intersections.
  • If a car is parked where you are trying to cross, look for a driver who may pull out and not see you as he is looking for traffic.
  • Remember telephone poles, utility boxes and parked vehicles block on-coming drivers ability to see you.
  • Look LEFT – RIGHT – LEFT prior to entering the street.
  • Give drivers ample time to stop prior to entering the crosswalk.
  • Crossing at locations that have traffic signals helps motorist see you.
  • Turn off your headphones while crossing the street, so you can hear approaching traffic.
  • Always hold a child by the hand while crossing the street and remember, WALK don’t run

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Office of the Mayor

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