Back-Seat Driver

State launches pedestrian safety campaign in Sacramento

Sacramento is the testing ground for a state pedestrian safety campaign launched Monday.

The campaign, “Be Aware, Pedestrians Don’t Have Armor,” highlights the fact that people crossing the street account for three of 10 roadway deaths in California.

The campaign introduces “Pete Walker,” a pedestrian who wears a protective suit made of car parts and carries a car door as a shield.

“We hope that when you see Peter Walker on TV, on a billboard, or even out and about ... you stop and think about how truly vulnerable actual pedestrians are when they’re out walking every day,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Craft said safety officials launched the campaign after noting that both car drivers and pedestrians are increasingly distracted, often because of smart phones. More pedestrians wear ear buds to listen to music or podcasts, taking their attention away from the streets around them.

“Incidents involving pedestrians and motorists are tragic but completely preventable,” Craft said.

Craft said the state safety office will monitor the public service programs success in Sacramento before launching it statewide.

Traffic safety officials said Sacramento County saw 390 pedestrian deaths in the last decade. Together, pedestrians and bicyclists account for 39 percent of the county’s roadway fatalities.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak