Johns Hopkins teams up with MVA to promote pedestrian safety

BALTIMORE, MD - This year, 700 people in Baltimore City will be hit by a car.

"We're here to talk about pedestrian safety," said Aaron Herbold as he passed out fliers.

Experts at Johns Hopkins teamed up with the Motor Vehicle Administration to spread the word about pedestrian safety and how something so preventable can be stopped.

"We used to call motor vehicle injuries accidents, because we thought they were random acts; it was fate. It's not true. There are things we can do to prevent them. There are aspects of both driving and walking that increase the risk," said Michael J. Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

They took a deeper look at why hundreds of people each year are being hit as they walk through city streets.

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"It's happening primarily because people are ignoring the traffic signals and the advice that's given by the pedestrian walk signs," Klag said.

Dean Klag says the risk of having a crash is 10 times higher if you're on your phone.

Klag knows all too well that behind each statistic is a person.

"Once, a small child, a 2-year-old, ran out in front of my car and I heard a thump and I stopped immediately and I looked I saw a body, a little child laying the street. I thought I killed her. I didn't, luckily," Klag said.

The child walked away without any serious injuries, but 100 people in Baltimore aren't so lucky.

The group kicked off a handful of safety changes in East Baltimore a few months back: they added more time to light changes, extra officers patrolling busy intersections, and started spreading the word. They plan to give it six months and reevaluate, taking a look at the numbers again to see if the changes have made a difference.

"When we say injured, you have to remember, 100 people die. But for those 600 who aren't killed, they have life changing injuries," Klag said.

Baltimore City represents 30 percent of all pedestrian crashes in the state of Maryland; officials are calling such a high number unacceptable.

Since 2012, the Department of Transportation developed a Baltimore City Strategic Transportation Plan. It's main goal is to prioritize safety in daily activities. They hope through the plan, pedestrian deaths and injuries can be cut by 50 percent in the next eight years.

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