COLUMBUS, Ohio — Clifton Harris is fed up with drivers speeding through his East Columbus neighborhood.
“They treat it like it’s the Indy 500 cutting through here,” he said.
About a month and a half ago, a little girl was hit while getting out of a car. She ended up in surgery to have pins put in her leg.
But that’s not the only incident that has troubled Harris. His side mirror has been knocked off his car twice. And there are visible skid marks in the street. Signs and flags don’t seem to be working, so he took it one step further.
He decided to write a message in chalk in the middle of the road, pleading with people to slow down. He then posted a video on Facebook Live sharing what he had done.
“I thought it’d be a peaceful gesture just to write it in the street and just ask nicely like, look, just please slow down because if it’s your kid, then what, you know, lives matter, man, and we’re just rushing too fast, and we’re forgetting about life,” he said.
In fact, data shows that deadly pedestrian crashes are on the rise in Ohio. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, in the first six months of 2021, 79 pedestrians were killed. That’s an increase of 23% from the previous year, higher than the national average of 17%.
10TV got more detailed information from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The agency recorded 166 pedestrian deaths for the entire year of 2020. That number increased to 173 in 2021.
“Those numbers, they’re startling, they’re alarming because even one of these fatalities is one too many,” said OSHP Sgt. Ray Santiago.
Sgt. Santiago points to two “usual suspects” as the main causes for these crashes – unsafe speeds and distracted driving.
“Getting folks to really be undistracted, not just while they’re driving but even the pedestrians that are walking to and from where they’re going to always be aware and alert of your surroundings, that goes for both,” he said.
Harris is just hoping the message he wrote in chalk will catch the attention of some drivers and raise awareness. He also hopes to look into how to properly advocate for speed bumps to be added to his street.
“It’s just a call back to humanity, like can we just slow down a little bit,” he said. “Just slow down, just a little bit. You’re going to get there.