Making West Chester's streets safer
● By J. Chambless
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan has announced that the Chester County Highway Safety Project received the 2015 Project of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The award was based on the “Cops in Crosswalks” program in Chester County, a program to stop car collisions with pedestrians in congested areas.
The Chester County Highway Safety Project is a program administered under the District Attorney’s Office. Lori Aguilera is the executive director of the project.
“Our Highway Safety Project is one of the unsung heroes of Chester County,” Hogan said. “Lori Aguilera and her team, working with Chester County law enforcement, do an outstanding job addressing traffic safety issues, from kids’ car seats to distracted driving and everything in between. The ‘Cops in Crosswalks’ program is another example of a well-conceived program that helps make the streets of Chester County safer.”
Aguilera said, “It was quite an honor to be recognized by PennDOT and to receive the Project of the Year Award. This was all about trying something new in our county to raise awareness on pedestrian safety issues, having support from our local police departments to conduct the enforcement details, and ultimately reducing the number of pedestrian-related vehicle crashes and fatalities in our area.”
The “Cops in Crosswalks” program was a collaboration between the Chester County District Attorney’s Highway Safety Project and the West Chester Police Department. The program was aimed at stopping vehicle collisions with pedestrians in West Chester Borough. Under the program, the police conducted pedestrian enforcement details around South High Street in West Chester.
The results of the program revealed some clear patterns. Most of the problems were created by pedestrians crossing mid-block -- jaywalking -- where drivers are not expecting to see pedestrians. In addition, the police saw many pedestrians walking into the middle of the street while texting or otherwise absorbed by their smart phones. Finally, police cited multiple pedestrians for being under the influence of alcohol and wandering into the street.
Hogan added, “This program effectively showed some of the primary causes of pedestrian-involved crashes and how such collisions can be avoided. We hope that this award-winning Chester County program can be replicated across Pennsylvania.”
West Chester Police Chief Scott Bohn said, “West Chester is a destination point. We enjoy thriving business and entertainment venues. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to transportation, but there’s one that all road users share – everyone is a pedestrian. We are working hard to raise awareness of the dangers to pedestrians, and to provide leadership, expertise, and resources to reduce crashes and improve the quality of life in our community.”