People cross Farnam Street. On Thursday, a woman was injured when she was hit by an SUV. This summer, a girl died after being struck in Papillion.

At one time or another, Mark Segerstrom said, we all are pedestrians.

Even if you drive everywhere you go, you have to get out of the car sometime, right?

Segerstrom, Nebraska’s highway safety administrator, said that as pedestrians, people need to be “engaged, mindful and present” to improve their chances of staying safe. The same, he said, goes for drivers.

Thursday, Oct. 3, hospital officials said a 21-year-old woman had died after she was hit by an SUV about 6:30 a.m. one week earlier while crossing Maple Street near 99th Street. There is no crosswalk where Saadiyo Yusuf Mohamed crossed Maple.

This summer, 10-year-old Abby Whitford died after being struck by a car in downtown Papillion.

Her death has prompted Papillion city officials to review the crosswalk where she was hit and the speed of traffic on that street to determine if changes are warranted.

The number of pedestrian fatalities in Nebraska so far this year — 10 — is actually down from the 16 recorded at this point last year. But Segerstrom said the 24 pedestrian fatalities recorded by the end of 2018 was 62% higher than the five-year average of about 15.

As for injuries to pedestrians, the annual number in Nebraska averaged about 380 from 2010 through 2018.

Many drivers and pedestrians are distracted by smartphones, Segerstrom said. If you are texting or talking on your phone while driving or walking, he said, “cognitively, you are focused on that conversation and you’re not as engaged with your environment as you should be.”

The Omaha Police Department is planning to produce public service announcements this fall to address distracted driving and other traffic safety issues, Omaha Police Lt. Jake Ritonya said. The goal, he said, is to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Earlier this month, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert set a goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in the city. City officials plan to hire a coordinator for the Vision Zero effort, which is an international movement aimed at cutting traffic deaths to zero.

In traffic crashes involving pedestrians, Ritonya said, the person in the car probably will end up unscathed. That won’t be the case, he said, for the pedestrian.

Bob Glissmann helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow him on Twitter @BobGlissmann. Phone: 402-444-1109.

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