Last updated: October 15. 2013 8:04AM - 1979 Views

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The recent deaths of three pedestrians in two separate accidents in the Huntington area have put a focus on pedestrian safety.

In one case, questions have been raised about whether street lighting was sufficient. In both accidents, people are wondering whether creating more and better crosswalks could have made a difference. Those are both pertinent issues that officials should examine closely. Beyond that, though, the fatalities underscore the importance of adequately accounting for pedestrian safety when roads are designed.

One accident occurred the night of Sept. 26 when a 60-year-old Chesapeake, Ohio, woman was struck by a vehicle while crossing Hal Greer Boulevard to return to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where her husband was a patient. Officials have pointed to some burned-out streetlights in the vicinity as a possible contributing factor, and have noted that the state-maintained road is due for a street-lighting upgrade.

In the other accident, which occurred Oct. 1, a retired couple from England staying at a motel in the Huntington Mall area was killed while crossing U.S. 60. …

In April, the West Virginia Legislature approved “complete streets” legislation that encourages the Division of Highways to adopt policies that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation during the planning, design and construction of all state roadways. Backers of the bill wanted the legislation to require such “complete streets” planning, but that provision was removed before passage.

Kentucky transportation officials also are encouraged to consider pedestrian safety needs when planning projects.

We encourage state planners — as well as local government agencies — to give pedestrian safety due consideration as they develop road improvement projects. Adhering to that philosophy won’t eliminate all pedestrian accidents, but it could reduce the number of those fatalities.

— The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington

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