Yuma police encourage motorists, bicyclists, skaters and pedestrians to share the road responsibly in order to prevent injury collisions.
According to statistics gathered between 2007 and 2012, the Yuma Police Department estimates there are about 40 vehicle versus pedestrian or bicycle collisions each year, some resulting in fatalities.
In an effort to reduce such incidents, YPD has initiated the Drive Aware, Walk With Care campaign that calls on motorists, bicyclists, skaters and pedestrians to be vigilant and watchful of one another when out on Yuma's roadways.
“Our goal is to decrease our accidents,” said Sgt. Leanne Worthen, YPD spokeswoman. “The majority of accidents in our community are completely avoidable if everybody pays attention to what they are doing and work together as a team. Look and be aware. Share the road.”
According to YPD, one of the most common reasons leading to such an incident is when a vehicle turns right onto a street. That is because the driver typically looks left to ensure they are not cutting off oncoming traffic but may not look to the right since they assume there are no vehicles driving the wrong way in a lane.
This poses a potential problem because a pedestrian, bicyclist or skater approaching from the right of the vehicle may not be seen until the motorist is already in motion — too late to avoid a collision.
To prevent such incidents, YPD encourages motorists to look both ways before hitting the gas pedal to ensure there is nobody in the way. If there are pedestrians, motorists should make eye contact with them before proceeding.
“When you are trying to make that right-hand turn — take that extra split second to make that eye contact,” said Joe Franklin, YPD public information officer. “We are hoping that will really cut down on the majority of pedestrian accidents.”
And even though pedestrians have the right of way, they should never assume motorists see them and should practice defensive walking.
“If the person driving is not looking at you, they probably haven't seen you yet,” Franklin said, noting that applies to pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters. “If they haven't seen you, they aren't going to be paying attention, and when they make that right-hand turn — boom! That's how we end up with these accidents.”
Pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters should never assume a crosswalk offers protection from motorists, Worthen added.
“They may have the right of way, but if that driver is not looking at you and you haven't looked at that driver's eyes in the vehicle, then you might as well wait, even if you have the flashing sign that says walk.”
Additionally, drivers should never text and drive and should avoid anything that may distract them from the task at hand, Worthen said, adding that pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters should do the same.