Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson spoke recently to a group of kindergarteners and parent champions at the “It’s Up to All of Us” Campaign Kick-off in honor of Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month, which took place at the Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School.
“Life in Berkeley has changed,” Supervisor Carson told the class. “There are more walkers and bikers than ever. We need to share the road and share the responsibility.”
Recent data shows that every hour a pedestrian is injured or killed in California. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, Berkeley has the highest number of pedestrian collisions in the state for cities of its size.
In response, a local group of residents, law enforcement officials, and advocacy organizations have launched a public education campaign asking residents to “Slow Down” in order to create a safer environment for pedestrians. The grassroots campaign utilizes social media messaging, such as #WatchandSlowforWalkers, along with community outreach to remind drivers that slowing down can save a life.
Zachary Michael Cruz, a five-year-old who was killed by an automobile as he crossed the street in Berkeley in 2009, was walking with his daycare teacher and children from his after school program when his young life was taken.
The driver of the vehicle was never cited or charged in the collision. If he had lived, Zachary would have been 12 years old this March.
Frank Cruz, Zachary’s father and director of the Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation, along with his wife and infant son attended the kick off, urging children to look both ways before crossing the street and to practice general safety as young pedestrians.
Frank Cruz talked about how his son wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
“The accident that cut my son’s life short on February 27, 2009 was completely preventable,” said Cruz. “Unfortunately, tragedies like this befall families in our community all too often.”
Alameda County is active in addressing public safety issues that impact the lives of young children, such as the tragic loss of young Zachary. “Drivers need to slow down. A car can become a moving weapon and the faster you go, the higher the chance of serious injury or killing someone on impact,” says Supervisor Carson.
“We are excited to be launching this important campaign and encourage Berkeley residents to get involved. This month is special, known as Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month. We should honor his memory and his courage by getting involved.”
The “It’s Up to All of Us” Campaign is supported by Alameda County, the California Department of Public Health, the Berkeley Police Department, the Community Pedestrian Safety Training of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), California Walks, the Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
For more information about the campaign, visit uptoallofus.weebly.com.