HOLYOKE, MA | June 29, 2005
In announcing a new city pedestrian safety program today, the Mayor’s office of Holyoke, Massachusetts unveiled materials developed by EDC, along with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The materials, Mantengase Alerta/Stay Alert, aim to educate children, their caregivers, and drivers about averting pedestrian injury and death.
Mantengase Alerta/Stay Alert, a “photo novella” or brief story with photos, was developed for the Latino population of Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield. More than 20,000 copies will be distributed through health centers, schools, police department, the Mayor’s office, day care centers and Latino-serving agencies. It is expected that this initial phase will be followed by an expanded national education campaign.
The materials were developed with the assistance of WEST, a community advisory group. The material discusses pedestrian injuries as entirely preventable, not “accidents” that are unavoidable. Members of WEST, which stands for Educación Seguridad en el Transito of Western MA, include EDC, health service providers; social service agencies; local Latino community groups; Safe Kids of Western Mass; the local hospital, Holyoke Health Center; and the Carlson Center for Traumatic Brain Injury.
Mantengase Alerta/Stay Alert presents a brief story describing three lives that converge at a busy intersection: a stressed commuter who runs a yellow light, a young child who is late for school, and his grandmother who is walking with him. The photos, which feature Holyoke residents, depict a near-collision. The material then concludes with three key lessons: pedestrians need to stay alert and follow pedestrian signals, adults accompanying children need to watch for cars, and drivers need to slow down and be aware of pedestrians as well as obey traffic signals.
“The theme, ‘staying alert,’ points out that the responsibility for pedestrian safety is shared by three parties: drivers, pedestrians, and caretakers of young children,” says Magda Rodriguez of EDC and WEST. “The materials say, ‘Mantengase Alerta. Sea responsable. La seguridad es responsabilidad de todos.’ This means, ‘Stay Alert. Be Responsible. Safety is everyone’s responsibility,’” Rodriguez said.
Prior to developing the materials, EDC conducted a national survey of Spanish language pedestrian safety materials and prepared guidelines for the development of effective materials. EDC and Holyoke community groups have worked together before, notably on Niños Atrás/Kids to the Back, a community-based program designed to educate the Latino community about the importance of seating children in the rear of the car. The program is unique in its focus on motor vehicle safety for children ages 6-12 and in its focus on the Latino community.
Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan, along with members of the Holyoke Police Department, Holyoke Health Center, and other community agencies, unveiled the new street safety campaign during a curbside press conference July 29th at the intersection of Sargeant and Beech Streets, one of Holyoke’s busiest intersections.
“Pedestrian injuries increase during the summer when children are out of school and people become more active outdoors,” said Mayor Sullivan. “With the recent near tragedy of a Holyoke child who was hit by a car and other pedestrian incidents, we have formed partnerships with local agencies to increase pedestrian and driving safety awareness,” he said.
Nationwide, 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur during the summer, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Each year, about 700 children (14 and under) die and 44,000 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for pedestrian-related injuries. Locally in the Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield area, rates of hospitalization for pedestrian injury are higher than for the state as a whole. Blacks and Hispanics have a higher rate of pedestrian-related fatalities in the three cities combined than in the state. According to state statistics, pedestrians in the three cities are most likely to be hit by a motor vehicle when darting out mid-block – not while crossing at an intersection or using a crosswalk.