LITTLE ROCK — A federally funded study focusing on two Arkansas cities will serve as an outline for statewide efforts to reduce pedestrian deaths.
Two metropolitan planning organizations in Jonesboro and Little Rock are sharing a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to develop studies that would identify and implement low-cost safety measures at three corridors. The Northeast Arkansas Regional Transportation Planning Commission and Metroplan will split the required local match contribution, which could be up to $20,000.
The study will concentrate on reducing pedestrian fatalities at those corridors, all of which the FHA said have uncontrolled crossing locations and intersections that lack traffic signals.
Once complete, other cities can use the study as a resource on how pedestrian safety can be addressed on similar corridors within their jurisdictions, said Erica Tait, director of Northeast Arkansas commission.
"They will be able to study and learn some best practices and deploy them statewide," she said.
Pedestrian deaths now account for 16 percent of roadway deaths in the U.S., equating to about 6,000, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. More than 20 pedestrians were killed in Arkansas traffic crashes last year, a nearly 17 percent increase from the previous year, the association stated.
"Two consecutive years of 6,000 pedestrian deaths is a red flat for all of us in the traffic safety community," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the association. "These levels are no longer a blip but unfortunately a sustained trend. We can't afford to let this be the new normal."