CDOT wants you to gaze into the eyes of drivers so they don’t hit you while crossing the street

Might help to have a big eyeball mask, though.
2 min. read
Katie Clements, a CDOT eyeball, crosses Speer Boulevard to promote eye contact awareness, Sept. 4, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

If you're one of those people who tends to cross the street, the Colorado Department of Transportation would like you to make eye contact with drivers to decrease the chances of them running you over.

Actors with giant eyeball masks repeatedly crossed Speer Boulevard at Larimer Street on Wednesday to draw attention to the idea.

Research suggests that eye contact creates a powerful psychological connection between humans that can extend to street safety. However, CDOT spokesman Sam Cole said the department cannot measure how effective the eyeball masks, the walk-sign-suit guy or other campaigns are at changing behavior and saving lives.

Asked why people walking should be tasked with attracting the attention of drivers, Cole said making eye contact or waving -- acknowledging the driver in hopes they acknowledge you -- is "common sense."

CDOT eyeballs stand at a Speer Boulevard corner to promote eye contact awareness, Sept. 4, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Sam Cole, safety communications manager with CDOT, poses with an eyeball promoting eye contact awareness along Speer Boulevard, Sept. 4, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"Yes, I think pedestrians need to do everything they can to ensure their own safety before crossing the street, knowing there's a lot of distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drugged drivers," Cole said. "I wish we didn't have distracted drivers ... but until we have perfect drivers out there, I need to take responsibility for my own actions."

Fifty-five people have died traveling around Denver's streets this year, 15 of them while walking, according to Denver Police Department data.

This article was updated to correct the number of pedestrians killed in Denver this year, which is 15, not 14.

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