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~ Springfield, a city known for its bustling streets and busy traffic, has seen a slight decrease in driver compliance at crosswalks. According to the fourth quarter 2023 crosswalk compliance assessments conducted by the City's SGF Yields pedestrian safety program, only 51% of drivers are yielding to pedestrians. This is a decrease of three percentage points compared to the results from the same time period in 2022.

The compliance study sites for the fourth quarter of 2023 included Mount Vernon at Golden Avenue, Bennett Street at Delaware Avenue, Grant Avenue north of Talmage Street, Broadway Avenue at Swan Street, Mentor Avenue at Greeley Street and a downtown crosswalk on Trafficway near the Jordan Valley Ice Park. These locations were chosen based on their similar traffic speeds and characteristics.

It is not uncommon for crosswalk assessments during the fourth quarter to show weaker compliance among drivers. Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, a Traffic Safety professional, explains that this could be due to the holiday season when drivers tend to be more rushed and distracted. She also notes that October through December are historically the deadliest months for pedestrians nationwide.

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To address this issue and reduce fatalities, SGF Yields has launched initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between drivers and Springfield's most vulnerable pedestrians. The "Use your WITS" outreach initiative and Pedestrian Dignity Project seek to increase understanding and empathy between these two groups.

Buettgen-Quinn explains that there is often tension between motorists and pedestrians as drivers may get irritated by people crossing major streets mid-block while pedestrians may not feel safe using designated crosswalks. She also acknowledges that Springfield's infrastructure was historically built with cars in mind and changing this mindset will take time. In an effort to reach out to those at highest risk of being fatally hit - citizens who lack shelter - SGF Yields has created an education video featuring local individuals who have been struck by cars. The video offers simple tips on how to stay safe while crossing the street. Additionally, the Pedestrian Dignity Project uses portraits to give a face and voice to Springfield's most vulnerable pedestrians in hopes of increasing empathy among drivers.

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The quarterly crosswalk assessments have been conducted by Springfield Public Works Traffic Operations division since 2017. These assessments evaluate driver compliance at six crosswalk sites with similar traffic speeds and characteristics. Two locations are studied each quarter as a control group, while the remaining sites are selected from each of the four City Council zones. The results from each location are then averaged to produce a snapshot of driver compliance across the city.

In 2017, Springfield's crosswalk compliance average was only 25%, but efforts in public education, crosswalk improvements, amendments to local regulations, and enforcement "Yield Checks" have made an impact on local driving habits. Some of these improvements include constructing pedestrian refuge medians, raised crosswalks, and installing Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at multiple crosswalks.

For more information on SGF Yields' crosswalk compliance assessments, visit springfieldmo.gov/sgfyields. The "Use Your WITS" video and related resources are also available for free public use at https://www.springfieldmo.gov/5897/Use-Your-WITS.

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