INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Last year between January 1 and May 15, four pedestrians were killed in crashes.
This year during the same time, eleven have died.
That number doesn’t take into account the man walking who was hit and killed on the city’s east side yesterday morning, nor the other deadly pedestrian accident on May 19th.
Some of the cases are hit-and-runs. In some, the person has been found and arrested. In others, the person who hit and killed someone is still out there.
There are many reasons why these accidents happen.
Studies show access to sidewalks is one of the variables at play.
“We want to make sure that whenever there’s some type of pedestrian incident or some type of car crash, that we’re looking at it on both ends, from a safety perspective and an infrastructure perspective,” said DPW Assistant Public Information Officer Warren Stokes.
Stokes says when pedestrian is hit by a car, they talk to IMPD about what happened and why.
That scenario has happened 122 times this year, between January 1 and May 15.
Eleven of the victims died.
Last year during the same time period, only four pedestrians died in crashes with cars.
If there’s something DPW can do to help prevent another tragedy , Stokes says they make every effort to do that.
“There’s a lot of incidents where pedestrians and vehicles are side-by-side, whether that’s them crossing the street or waiting at a stop light,” said Stokes. “So we want to look at those areas and provide some improvements.”
DPW is planning thousands of dollars in improvements across the city, including adding a sidewalk near the Vision Academy School to get rid of a gap in sidewalks and installing new crosswalks and flashing warning lights for drivers. The latter of those improvements will be made at 25th and Delaware and along Washington Street at several intersections.
Farther down the road, they plan to use recently-acquired funding to improve pedestrian safety in Center and Wayne Township in 2022. The areas where changes will be made haven’t been identified yet.
“We work with the neighborhoods, IMPD and our traffic team to kind of look at what areas need these improvements,” said Stokes.
They also count on people actually walking and driving the roads to report potentially problematic areas to the Mayor’s Action Center.
Even then, the department isn’t always the answer in these crashes.
As a witness at a deadly hit-and-run Monday morning stated, sometimes drivers are going too fast and lose control or don’t have time to stop when they do see a pedestrian.
“I’ve seen people go upwards of 50 or better out here,” said Jessie, an employee of a business near the crash.
Other times, drivers and pedestrians have used drugs or alcohol, aren’t paying as much attention to the road as they are their phones or other distractions, or aren’t following the rules of the road for where to cross or yield.
“People don’t use crosswalks like they should,” said Jessie. “It’s also not lit up when businesses being closed.”
Dark streets increase the chances of pedestrians getting hit, whether they cross at an appropriate place or not.
That’s especially a concern in Indianapolis, which was under a moratorium for new streetlights for more than three decades, leaving many streets in the dark.
It’s an issue the mayor’s office has been trying to resolve since he took office. They began last year with the modest goal of installing a hundred streetlights, which they say they’ve met.
With the Indianapolis Power & Light contract expiring, they’re working on a new contract that could lead to installing thousands more streetlights across the city.
For now though, challenges remain in the growing city that both drivers and the city may have to address to prevent this spike from becoming a long-term trend.
“It’s really dangerous,” said Jessie. “I just want to say to people out there if you’re crossing the street you know you got to be very careful you don’t know what’s going to happen.”