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Volunteers Establish Pedestrian Safety Programs

Volunteers educate and empower pedestrians about safety, and lobby for pedestrian safety improvements.

That's why Peltz has made it her personal mission to educate anyone she comes across on the cold, hard facts of pedestrian safety. She speaks to senior citizen groups, hands out multi-lingual pedestrian safety brochures, sets up booths at local malls—whatever it takes to get the word out about things like making eye contact with drivers, wearing reflective clothing when walking at night, and absolutely never jaywalking.

"We've got a lot more traffic and a lot more speeding," Nolan said of both her Chevy Chase, Md., neighborhood and Washington, as a whole. "Our drivers have become less courteous. Everyone seems to be in a rush and that goes for pedestrians as well. Our pedestrians have gotten less cautious and more daring and that's leading to more accidents. It takes two: It takes a driver and pedestrian, and if both are disregarding laws, you run into problems on the road."

Nolan's efforts have resulted in legislative change as well. Now all cars in the District must stop—instead of simply yielding—for pedestrians. It's been a long journey, but the community activist was never intimidated by what others may have seen as a daunting task in a city that always seems to be moving.

"You just have to jump in," she advised those interested in volunteering their time to pedestrian safety.  "You have to find out who's in charge and who you need to meet and who's making the decisions."

She also recommends combing the Internet to learn about what other communities are doing around the country to promote pedestrian safety.

"Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Don't spend a lot of time doing work that's already been done. You don't want to waste your time," she said, mentioning that the orange flags were a tried-and-true method used in other communities.

Peltz's advice? Don't be afraid to start small.

"I think that if every community, every little community, no matter how large or small, if they work at it, we can reduce [pedestrian fatalities]," she said with confidence. "If we all do our share, we can make it better."

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