CDOT Brings Pedestrian Safety Campaign to Life in Denver

News Release

February 22, 2022 - Statewide Traffic Safety

STATEWIDE – Local businesses along South Pearl St. in Denver are partnering with the Colorado Department of Transportation to bring an important message to life during February’s dark winter nights – watch for pedestrians. Most crashes that involve pedestrians happen in the evening or during low-light conditions such as dusk.

“Pedestrian deaths are increasing across the country, including in Colorado,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “With this campaign we are reminding drivers to always watch out for pedestrians, especially when it is more difficult to see them at night. We are thankful for the S. Pearl St. business partners that are helping spread this message.”

CDOT has installed bright neon LED signs in storefront windows at nine shops along S. Pearl St., including 5 Green Boxes, Etc. Eatery, Kaos Pizzeria, Love Dental, Melrose and Madison, One Ton Creative, Second Star to the Right Children's Books, Stella's Coffee and Wheelhouse Gifts. The signs remind everyone to use extra caution and be aware of pedestrians during low visibility hours.

Neon sign

“We are proud to partner with CDOT on this important safety campaign,” said Riley Dorway, owner of Kaos Pizzeria. “We want to keep people safe in our community and this message is close to home since Kaos employees often bike and walk to work. By displaying the neon signs, we want to remind drivers to always look for pedestrians.”

February in Colorado offers approximately 11 hours of daytime and 13 hours of nighttime, not inclusive of dawn and dusk hours. The decrease in daylight hours, combined with daylight savings, significantly raises the likelihood of pedestrian crashes. According to 2021 data, 69% of pedestrian fatalities occurred during these low visibility hours.

fatalities by time of day

Some of the signs were delivered today by Cade Arvin, a 15-year-old pedestrian who was hit crossing the street near his house in 2022, and his mother Rachel Hultin.

“It’s easy to become distracted while driving, which is what caused my crash, but it is incredibly important to put the distractions away,” said Cade Arvin, a 15-year-old pedestrian crash survivor. “I was lucky to survive, which is why my mom and I are dedicated to raising awareness for drivers to look for pedestrians. I hope that these signs make drivers think twice and look twice when they are behind the wheel and that this campaign prevents other pedestrians from getting hit.”

According to AAA Foundation research three of every four pedestrians killed on U.S. roads in 2018 were struck in darkness. Fatalities in darkness also account for the vast majority of the overall increase in pedestrian fatalities since 2009. Nationally, 84 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in 2018 occurred on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or higher. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, their chances of survival drops precipitously with each additional mile per hour increase in speed at speeds above roughly 25 mph.

In addition to the signs, CDOT will also be sharing the message through radio placements, billboard signs and a social media campaign.

Facts and Statistics:

pedestrian fatalities

  • There were 91 pedestrian fatalities in 2021, which accounted for more than 13% of all Colorado roadway fatalities that year.
  • The Colorado counties with the most pedestrian fatalities are:
    • Adams – 17
    • El Paso – 16
    • Denver – 15
    • Larimer – 7
    • Arapahoe – 6

Pedestrian fatalities reached a record high in 2020 with 93 deaths. There were 92 deaths in 2017, with 2021 being the third deadliest year.

CDOT is reminding drivers and pedestrians to utilize the following safety tips:

  • Always use crosswalks
  • Most crashes occur at non-intersections. The safest place to cross the street is at the intersection crosswalk. Drivers should use extra caution when approaching crosswalks.
  • Follow the rules of the road
  • The crosswalk is a no-car zone and motorists need to stop prior to the crosswalk. Pedestrians should press the crosswalk button, wait for the WALK signal, then look both ways and over their shoulder prior to entering the crosswalk.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving and walking
  • Both drivers and pedestrians should limit the use of cell phones, turn down music and avoid other distractions
  • Use extra caution at nighttime
  • Pedestrians should remember they are harder to see at night and use extra caution when crossing streets and entering crosswalks. Drivers should use slower speeds and actively look for pedestrians at crosswalks, stop signs and stop lights.
  • Make eye contact or nod
  • Eye contact and/or a quick nod is an easy way to confirm that both the driver and pedestrian see and acknowledge the other.
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Often, pedestrians— especially younger ones— are not where drivers would expect them to be. That’s why following posted speed limits in urban areas and neighborhoods is so important.

CDOT is also improving pedestrian safety through its Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program and its Revitalizing Main Streets (RMS) program.

  • The SRTS program promotes and supports pedestrian safety projects for K-8 children to walk and bike to and from school. It includes improvements like expanded sidewalks, bike and roll lanes, safe crossings and more.
  • The RMS program expands active transportation and improve pedestrian access in downtowns large and small across the state, including facilitating safe outdoor commerce. In 2021, the department awarded 81 small grants worth about $8.1 million and 16 larger grants worth about $22 million across Colorado for projects such as sidewalk improvements, street enhancements to allow for outdoor dining, outdoor lighting, safer accessibility for all modes of transportation and micro mobility support programs like e-bikes.