Step Smart

Step Smart

What is Step Smart?

Step Smart is a walking safety campaign offering useful tips to people walking around the UW campus and the U-District. For the duration of this campaign, lawn signs and sandwich boards are posted in intersections with known conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, or in intersections with a history of pedestrian-vehicle collision data. The campaign will run for 3 weeks from the beginning of February 2014.

Our Goal: Collision Reduction

We hope that Step Smart will be a successful and recurring campaign on campus and in the U-District. Our intention is that the UW community as well as visitors and residents of the U-District will become more aware of simple things they can do to protect themselves from inattentive drivers and increase their communication and understanding with attentive drivers. While Step Smart is focused on supplying immediately useful tips to people on foot, we look forward to reaching out to operators of vehicles in future Step Smart campaigns and other safety initiatives.

Traffic Safety Research: A Data-Driven Approach

We are concurrently running a research evaluation of the campaign as approved by the Human Subjects Board through the University. UW Transportation Services has partnered with the School of Public Health and Harborview Injury and Trauma Prevention Research Center to conduct observations before, during, and after the campaign. If you spot any of our research assistants while crossing the UW campus or the U District, please feel free to ask them for a business card for more information on the Smart Steps campaign.

The Campaign Signs

Below you can find all of the campaign signs (along with a quick explanatory caption) created for the Step Smart campaign. Thank you to the students who participated in our focus group and helped refine the campaign signs in their early stages.

  1. Look, Smile, Wave!
    Communicate with drivers when you’re crossing the street - they can’t always see you!

  2. Unplug
    Limit electronic distraction at intersections

  3. Watch for vehicles turning right
    Check over your left shoulder for cars turning right

  4. Watch for vehicles turning left
    Check over your right shoulder for cars turning left

  5. Get Noticed
    Wear reflective clothing at night to increase your own visibility

  6. Walk Together
    Walk with others, especially at night. You can also call Husky NightWalk at 206-685-9255.

How can I get Involved?

Follow the suggestions of the signs! Step Smart is an awareness campaign rather than an interactive one. You can also check back periodically to see if there are any interactive updates to this campaign.

Campaign Background

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages 5-24 in Seattle. Failure to grant right-of-way is the most cited collision factor in Seattle every year for drivers, and crossing against the signal or not using a crosswalk is the most cited collision factor in Seattle for pedestrians. Studies and data have both shown that visibility, impairment, and distraction are all causative factors for the dangerous behaviors that lead to collisions every year.

SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation) has adopted a long-term plan to eliminate serious and fatal crashes in the city of Seattle by 2030. Like Washington State’s Target Zero program, it is a plan based on the idea that collisions are a preventable and large contributor of injuries and fatalities in the city of Seattle.

Based on these data, traffic safety and more specifically pedestrian safety, is a major concern for students at the University of Washington. The UW is housed in the city of Seattle and many students travel around campus and the U District area by foot. This frequent use of walking as a form of transportation puts students at a higher risk for injury in the incidence of pedestrian – vehicle collisions. Thus strategies to create safe pedestrian behavior were created based on behavior research and traffic safety data to target university students into becoming safer and more aware of traffic safety risks.

  • Step 1: Look, Smile, Wave
    The purpose of this sign is to encourage friendly and helpful interaction between pedestrians and drivers. Miscommunication between pedestrians and drivers can be a potential hazard because the intention of either party is not known without communication. This sign strives to eliminate miscommunications between pedestrians and drivers and was created in collaboration with King County Metro and their “Look, Smile, Wave” campaign.

  • Step 2: Unplug
    Sign #2 is meant to encourage engagement with one’s surroundings while crossing. It targets distraction (whether it’s electronic or not) as a potential hazard to students while crossing an intersection.

  • Step 3: Watch for vehicles turning right
    The purpose of this sign is to encourage/remind students to look over their left shoulder specifically for right turning vehicles. A quick “left, right, and left again” glance only checks for potential collisions from cars going straight; the glance doesn’t check for right turning vehicles.

  • Step 4: Watch for vehicles turning left
    The purpose of this sign is to encourage/remind students to look over their right shoulder specifically for left turning vehicles. A quick “left, right, and left again” glance only checks for potential collisions from cars going straight; the glance doesn’t check for left turning vehicles.

  • Step 5: Get Noticed
    Lack of visibility is a high-priority safety concern for pedestrians. The intersections where this sign has been placed have a history of collisions with “lack of visibility” cited as a contributing factor. Sign #4 is meant to plant the idea that high visibility clothing is both safe and socially accepted.

  • Step 6: Walk together when it’s late. Husky NightWalk 206-685-9255
    Safety includes not only traffic safety, but also awareness of one’s surroundings. Past surveys by from Feet First and by the UW Transportation Services Department have shown that in addition to traffic safety, students are concerned with the level of criminal activity around campus and the U-District. The purpose of this sign is to encourage students to use a UW-sponsored service, Husky NightWalk, or to walk with others when crossing campus at night.

Read more about Step Smart in The Whole U

Contact Us

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact Transportation Services:

  • Ted Sweeney
    Active Transportation Specialist | 206-616-7493

Our Partners

We simply can’t thank our Step Smart partners enough! This campaign would not have been accomplished without their help. If you are interested in contacting any one of our partners, their names and contact information can be found below:

  • UW School of Public Health – SPH 490 : Honors Seminar in Public Health
    Deb Hinchey, MPH
    Clinical Instructor | 206-221-7822

  • Harborview Injury and Trauma Prevention Research Center
    Alex Quistberg, Ph.D., MPH
    Post-Doctoral Fellow, UW Medicine Department of Pediatrics | 206-744-9481

  • Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)
    Jim Curtin | 206-684-8874

  • King County Metro
    Ref Lindmark
    Transportation Planner, Service Development Section | 206-477-5825