Utah DOT Helps Distribute Reflective Backpacks to Homeless

The Utah Department of Transportation and Zero Fatalities are donating 3,500 reflective drawstring backpacks to homeless service providers throughout Salt Lake County to help those experiencing homelessness stay visible to drivers during the fall, which is typically the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians.

[Above photo via the Utah DOT.]

“Every day we look for ways we can make Utah’s roads safer,” explained Kristen Hoschouer, the Utah DOT’s safety outreach administrator, in a statement. “Wearing reflective gear is essential, especially as we are entering a challenging time of year when it’s hard to be seen at night.”

On average, 4.42 pedestrians are killed each month during the fall on Utah roads – a 47 percent increase from the average during the rest of the year. During the fall, days become shorter, and morning and evening commutes take place in low-light conditions or darkness.

There is also typically a spike in the number of pedestrians during fall as schools re-open, though that changed in 2020 due to many school systems switching to online-only learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Utah DOT has also engaged in other efforts related to improving safety for people experiencing homelessness. This spring, the agency and South Salt Lake City installed new signs and lights and activated a new High-intensity Activated crossWalK or HAWK signal on 3300 South and 1000 West near the homeless resource center.

HAWK signals are equipped with red lights that stop traffic so pedestrians can cross safely and, as the signals only light up when pedestrians activate them, the signals help keep traffic moving.

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