It’s been a dangerous year to be a pedestrian or cyclist in Connecticut.
“You’re still gonna get to where you're gonna go in the same amount of time if you take seconds off to just be aware and just be considerate enough to care,” Josepheny Robinson of Hartford said.
Distracted driving and speed are contributing to an increase in pedestrian fatalities and lawmakers are looking to do something about it during the next legislative session.
“Slow down, don’t drive intoxicated and put your phone down. These are things we can all do and respect life and not cause carnage in how we get from point A to point B,” Tony Cherolis said.
That’s why Cherolis, the Transport Hartford coordinator at the Center for Latino Progress in Hartford, supports the road safety bill the legislature is expected to debate in 2021.
According to Real Hartford blogger Kerri Provost, who has been mapping pedestrian fatalities across the state, at least 52 pedestrians and six cyclists have died after being struck by vehicles in the state this year alone.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities and crashes involving vulnerable users,” Rep. Roland Lemar said.
Lemar, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, said the problem is not confined to Connecticut but he said no one anticipated that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities would rise to the levels they have in recent years.
“We think looking at the data think it has a lot to do with increased travel speeds and distracted driving,” Lemar said.
Lemar will be proposing two pieces of legislation he thinks will help.
One will give municipalities more flexibility to set speed limits within their borders another would eliminate the need for pedestrians to step into the road in order to be granted the right of way at a crosswalk.
“First and foremost we have to bring down average traffic speeds particularly in our urban centers or in our main streets around commercial corridors,” Lemar said.
Lemar also wants to change crosswalk laws.
“Right now in Connecticut you have to physically be in the crosswalk before the car has to stop,” Lemar said.
Lemar wants to change that.
“If you’re on the sidewalk all you have to do is signal your intent, raise your hand and the car has to stop,” Lemar said.
Lemar conceded that some of his other proposals may be tougher sells. He plans to raise legislation authorizing speed enforcement cameras, which could photograph and send fines to drivers traveling over a set speed. Another would increase fines for distracted driving.