A 58-year-old woman became the first pedestrian fatality of the year on Monday and the factors contributing to her death are now under investigation.
The crash occurred in Mangilao, one of five villages identified as having the highest pedestrian fatality rates.
In 2018, there was at least one pedestrian death a month. Seven months into the year, 10 pedestrian fatalities were reported and by the end of 2018, there was a total of 14 pedestrian deaths.
GPD spokesman Sgt. Paul Tapao said 2018 was a high mark for fatal crashes involving pedestrians.
“Entering 2019, we were able to address that and the numbers will show that our pedestrian fatalities significantly went down. So we are doing our due diligence in ensuring community safety,” Tapao said.
In 2019, seven out of 18 traffic fatalities involved pedestrians. While a number of factors contributed to these fatalities, many of the cases share similarities such as poor visibility, the lack of a sidewalk or crosswalk, and in some cases jaywalking.
A lack of suitable crossing points on the island’s roadways contributes to jaywalking but as Tapao said, it is often a result of a bad decision on the pedestrian’s part.
“We ask the pedestrians to first and foremost, utilize the crosswalks at all times when it’s available. Refrain from being impaired while walking. A lot of our cases that we are starting to see is the decision-making that goes into some of these pedestrians that take the chance of walking while impaired,” Tapao said.
Jaywalking is defined as a disregard for traffic rules. And while police understand that a crosswalk or sidewalk is not always available, the offense can lead to a traffic violation and a fine of up to $150.
“Our officers have given citations for jaywalking, even our highway investigators. They also are really adamant about enforcing that law. It’s part of enforcement and issuing citations is not just to enforce but to educate the community as well,” Tapao said.
GPD’s Highway Patrol Division has been working with the Department of Public Works in conducting outreaches and providing information about pedestrian safety.
According to GPD, Mangilao, Dededo, Asan, and Maite have the highest pedestrian fatality rates on island.
To curb this, GPD is supposed to launch the “Be Safe, Be Smart, Be Seen” campaign this year which will involve a pedestrian safety enforcement component that aims to change pedestrian behavior towards the use of crosswalks and discourage jaywalking in these hotspots.