Partners Review OC’s Walk Smart Campaign Success

OCEAN CITY – Plans for next summer are underway, but city and state officials took the opportunity this week to review this season’s successful Walk Smart campaign and the fact there were no pedestrian fatalities and a major reduction in accidents.
On Wednesday afternoon, Maryland State Highway Administration (MD SHA) representatives met with Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officials and other partners to wrap-up the results of the latest Walk Smart campaign that was launched this summer to encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks.
“A year ago, the Maryland SHA reached out to our local partners … in response to a spike in pedestrian related crashes in Ocean City last year. We are pleased to say over the year after implementing the Walk Smart program we have had really good success this year,” SHA Assistant District Engineer Ken Cimino said.
According to OCPD year-to-date data, pedestrian collisions were reduced in the area from 40th to 62nd streets this year from 12 last year to just five this year. South of 40th Street there were 14 pedestrian collisions this year compared to 23 last year, and north of 62nd Street the number of pedestrian collisions were the same as last year with six.
According to SHA data, overall pedestrian crashes in Ocean City were down 39 percent on all roads and on roads maintained by SHA pedestrian crashes were down 52 percent.
“We hate to say we are a success because of course our goal is to work towards zero fatalities and to work towards zero crashes, but we did see a large benefit though our combined efforts of education, engineering and enforcement,” SHA Communications Manager Lora Rakowski said.
Rakowski reviewed the Walk Smart campaign’s different approaches in heightening pedestrian awareness.
The campaign’s creative approach was a crab safely crossing a crosswalk and the crab would take on different themes with holidays and events in Ocean City, such as the high school graduate program Play It Safe reflected a graduate crab, the crab posted in restaurants and bars targeted the night life crowd stating “show your glow” to promote pedestrians to be visible at night and on 4th of July there was an Uncle Sam crab.
The Walk Smart campaign was advertised through many different outlets including transit ads and billboards on the main highways entering into Ocean City, coasters and posters were passed out to the local bars and restaurants, Play It Safe T-shirts were handed out stating “Keep Calm and Walk Smart”, and ads were placed on digital boats, airplane banners, web banners and social media, cable television and radio.
A couple different surveys were taken by SHA to gather the public’s response to the campaign. According to Dallas Baker, SHA transportation engineer, engineering street teams targeted young adults on Friday nights from 4-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-2 a.m., but avoided those who were intoxicated, for survey results.
According to Baker, 536 people completed surveys and 216 were from Maryland, 137 were from Pennsylvania, 42 were from New Jersey and others were from various locations.
The results included 295 surveyors noticed signs and pavement markings, 210 noticed outdoor advertising, 113 noticed posters and coasters, 92 noticed commercials and 118 noticed nothing.
Out of those surveyed, 48 percent said that outreach efforts influenced their decision to use crosswalks; 43 percent responded the outreach effort of outdoor advertising stood out the most; 37 percent responded signs and pavement markings stood out; 14 percent responded posters and coasters; and 6 percent responded commercials.
In the upcoming year, SHA will continue to work on the campaign to bring back enhanced and expanded efforts in the spring and summer of 2014. The goal is to kick off next year’s campaign during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday with a crab decked out in green.
Next season SHA will look to grab visitor’s attention by expanding outdoor marketing entering into Ocean City to handing out information when guests check-in to their hotel. This past summer SHA reached out to condominiums but hopes to gain partners in the hotel/motel industry next summer to help spread the word.
Rakowski added SHA is aware the Walk Smart campaign initially targeted pedestrians but it has become apparent that drivers need to become targeted in heightening awareness over pedestrian safety as well.
“There is still a lot of work to do as we get down to our goal of zero pedestrian related crashes,” Cimino said.
OCPD Lt. Scott Harner, who coordinates the town’s traffic safety unit, pointed out the most important number that resulted from this summer is year-to-date there has been a 100-percent fatality reduction rate.
“For me, one of the most difficult and challenging jobs that I have is when someone calls you and communicates to you there has been fatality and you have to go make that notification,” Harner said. “Generally, we can all agree it is late at night … and I am now tasked with devastating someone’s life because generally you are going up to knock on a parent’s door … and one of the results of this campaign is I haven’t had to do that this year, and I take that very personally.”