Pedestrian safety task force brainstorms ideas

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COLUMBIA - A task force in Columbia had its first official meeting Tuesday to raise pedestrian safety. The Pedestrian Safety Task Force hosted Columbia Police Traffic Supervisor Sergeant Curtis Perkins give a presentation of crash data from the past several years in the Columbia area. Perkins said the main reason behind a pedestrian-related accident is distractions.

"One of the things we noticed, looking at the crash data is that some of the crashes are caused by pedestrians crossing where they shouldn't in front of cars," Perkins said. "And some were caused by drivers not yielding right of way to pedestrians."

Perkins said there has been a slight spike in the past year with pedestrian accidents. Perkins said from 2004 to October 2014, Columbia had seven fatalities total. But since October of last year, Columbia has had three pedestrian-related fatalities. While Perkins said this might not seem like a lot, it's more than what Columbia has had in the past years.

Councilman Ian Thomas said this slight rise in pedestrian accidents didn't surprise him. Thomas said it is part of the reason why he and councilman Clyde Ruffin started the task force. Thomas said one suggestion from the meeting that interested him is the idea of ongoing process tracking. Thomas explained that if there was a pedestrian accident or fatality, a report would automatically get sent to the the Public Works or the city's Traffic Engineering department. Thomas said that might help point out key locations where pedestrian accidents tend to happen.

The next meeting will be held July 21.

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