EVERETT — She reminds people traveling on foot and in cars to look out for one another.
The number of collisions involving pedestrians has steadily climbed over the past five years, said Stacey McShane, manager of the Target Zero Task Force. There were 292 in Snohomish County last year, resulting in eight deaths.
Some of those pedestrians were dashing to catch a bus in the morning. Others crossed paths with a distracted driver. Many were impaired and had wandered into the middle of the road at night.
“You’re seeing the results of a heroin epidemic where people aren’t thinking like they normally would,” McShane said.
In October, the task force received more than $30,000 to help prevent future car-pedestrian collisions. McShane has identified intersections and stretches of road that historically have been dangerous. The money will fund an educational campaign and additional police patrols focused on those hot spots. The project is expected to roll out later this month.
The task force, in partnership with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, is targeting heavily trafficked areas near Mariner High School and Voyager Middle School for its pilot program.
In 2016, an SUV struck a 22-year-old man on 128th Street SW, just south of the schools. The driver had failed to clear his windshield of condensation, and didn’t stop to help the young man in the crosswalk. The man who was hit suffered a spinal cord injury and isn’t expected to walk again.
In September, a 15-year-old girl was struck by a car while walking along 120th Street SW. She was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
McShane is working with the schools, looking for the best way to teach students how they can be safe while walking. Kids discussed the possibility of filming a video and designing posters.
Management at local apartment complexes are planning to include similar information in newsletters to tenants.
To reach others who don’t live in the area or attend schools, McShane will send advertisements to their phones. A technology program allows her to draw a digital fence around a specific area and send messages to anyone within that space.
Additional sheriff’s deputies will patrol those streets beginning in mid-March. They will watch for jaywalkers and drivers who don’t yield for pedestrians.
McShane identified other troublesome areas around the county, including the intersection of Highway 99 and Airport Road as well as stretches of State Avenue in Marysville.
Projects such as these can be expensive for police departments to pursue on their own. Many departments have downsized their traffic units because of budget constraints. Marysville eliminated its traffic team during the Great Recession, McShane said.
Any of the task force’s 13 police agencies can use the grant money to participate in the pedestrian safety project.
Edmonds police have signed up. Officers plan to focus on downtown, as well as Highway 99 near the city’s border with Mountlake Terrace.
McShane believes it is never too early to learn how to be aware of one’s surroundings. She shares these lessons with her 6-year-old daughter.
The pair take walks around their Marysville neighborhood. They pass a stop sign that drivers often choose not to heed and discuss precautions they should take as pedestrians.
McShane’s daughter now calls attention to drivers who roll through stop signs and people she sees walking down a dark road without reflective gear.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.