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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Seattle Launches Annual Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign

11/23/2013  2:15:00 PM

Seattle Launches Annual Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign
Safety elves remind us to drive with care and walk aware

SEATTLE— The City of Seattle launched its fifth year of the Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign this week with a team of safety elves and Blitz from the Seattle Seahawks on downtown streets reminding visitors, employees and residents to be super safe. Posters displayed in store windows, bus ads and informational postcards use bright neon colors to share the message “Drive with Care. Walk Aware.” Additional traffic enforcement by the Seattle Police Department is also occurring in tandem with the education campaign.

“Downtown Seattle is a wonderful place to be during the holidays,” said Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “People come to shop and enjoy the festivities. To make sure everyone stays safe and enjoys their visit, I encourage people to slow down and look out for each other – it’s what the holidays should be all about. ”

Crashes between people driving and people walking increase during dark rainy months, and holiday activities add to the distractions. The biggest causes of collisions in the Center City are drivers failing to yield for people in crosswalks or attempting to make left turns as people are crossing. By taking a few simple steps, you can make sure you arrive at your destination safely and enjoy your downtown visit.

Tips for driving safely

  • Plan ahead and don’t drive if you plan to drink – use transit, take a cab or carpool
  • Travel the speed limit – faster  speeds can lead to more serious injuries
  • Focus on the road – you’re 23 times more likely to be in a crash if texting while driving
  • Always look for people walking and biking when attempting a turn
  • Stop for pedestrians – it’s the law in Washington State
  • Don’t block the crosswalk
  • Never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk—assume they are stopped for a pedestrian

Tips for walking safely

  • Use the sidewalk
  • Wear bright clothing at night so you can be more easily seen
  • Use marked crosswalks whenever possible
  • Watch for traffic even in a marked crosswalk with the “walk” signal – make sure approaching drivers see you
  • At signals, start crossing the street only when you have the “walk” signal
  • Don’t be a distracted walker—turn off headphones, put down your phone and pay attention when crossing the street

Looking for a way to spread safety messages to large groups of people, the city formed the Seattle Safety Elves. The Safety Elves are dressed in bright neon clothing. They dance and walk along the streets of downtown, spreading cheer and handing out safety information at downtown holiday events.  Elf bios explaining why they love safety are available on the Seattle Department of Transportation’s website

“The holiday pedestrian safety campaign provides an important reminder for everyone during the hustle and bustle of the season to take it slow and watch out for others so that their city holiday experience is memorable and safe,” said Sergeant Paul Gracy of the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct Community Police Team. “We’ll be out enforcing the rules of the road and encouraging people to be super safe throughout the season.” 

As part of the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign, targeted enforcement efforts will occur at locations with past high collision rates in the Center City area between November 23, 2013, and January 15, 2014. The main goal of enforcement is to deter unsafe behaviors of people driving, walking and biking, and to encourage people to obey traffic laws and share the road safely.

The campaign is being run in conjunction with the City’s Road Safety campaign, Be Super Safe, which is an ongoing effort to reach zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

The first four years of the holiday campaign have seen a 37 percent decrease in the number of collisions downtown during the holiday season when compared to the previous three years. At the end of this year’s Center City Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign, SDOT will analyze collision data and conduct a survey to see how effective was messaging and outreach. In 2014, SDOT will evaluate the five-year effort, and present results and recommendations for moving forward to the city council. For more information, visit

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