A new safety campaign launched by the city of Springfield aims to make drivers and pedestrians more aware of their surroundings. The city says an average of 60 pedestrians are involved in motor vehicle accidents per year.
Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, traffic safety professional for Springfield Public Works, says pedestrian crashes and fatalities are skyrocketing.
“Part of that is distraction and another part is the communication piece between drivers and pedestrians,” she says.
To help combat this growing trend, the Missouri Department of Transportation has provided the city with a $5,000 Blueprint for Safer Roadways grant. Springfield has decided to set up “Mr. Walker” cutouts at 10 locations throughout the city.
The metal, life-sized models will be a brightly colored, intended to reinforce existing crosswalk signage and remind drivers and pedestrians.
“We wanted to have a different type of campaign. A lot of awareness campaigns are based on scare tactics, this campaign is based on positive mental association,” says Buettgen-Quinn.
The city is also preparing to turn the diamond-shaped pedestrian signs into heart-shaped signs. Buettgen-Quinn says this is cheesy, but it will convey the idea of caring in a fun manner.
Four of the Mr. Walker cutout locations have been disclosed and the other six will be secretly installed around Springfield. Officials say the idea is that community members will hunt for them and take photos to share on social media.
The first Mr. Walker cutout will be displayed in Park Central Square during the July 7th First Friday Art Walk. Educational booths will be set up and feature pedestrian safety tips, giveaways, and selfie opportunities.