In its latest safety campaign, the Colorado Department of Transportation is using a cartoon character to bring greater awareness to a serious issue: pedestrian crashes.
The department has produced 15- to 30-second animated shorts featuring the classic walking-man symbol, nicknamed "Fred Estrian," who leaves the confines of the small black signal box to spread a message of safety, according to a news release from CDOT.
Last year, six people were killed in pedestrian accidents in El Paso County, with all of the fatal crashes occurring in Colorado Springs. The number is up slightly from 2014, when pedestrian crashes claimed five lives in the county, said Sam Cole, safety communications manager for CDOT.
Statewide, there were more than 1,300 pedestrian crashes leading to 59 deaths, with less than half of crashes occurring at intersections, according to CDOT.
"In general, people need to be extra-vigilant at busy intersections," Cole said. "But this is also on drivers to use more caution around the pedestrians, slow down, and stay off their phones."
CDOT reminds pedestrians and drivers to look out for one another each fall, because the risk of accidents tends to increase around this time of year, when daylight hours become shorter, Cole said.
His best tip for pedestrian safety? Don't jaywalk.
"Pedestrians have to know there are some drivers out there that aren't paying attention, so they need to get their heads up and be careful," he said. "One of the best things that pedestrians do is to cross at an intersection."