Kim Wade says her 14-year-old son, Mason Wade, is making steady progress in recovering from being hit by an SUV at Man o' War Boulevard and Saron Drive in Lexington in November.
"We're just absolutely amazed at how far he's come," she said, but later added, "We still have a long road ahead of us."
Mason, a Boy Scout who played on the eighth-grade football team at Lexington Christian Academy, is one of at least 123 people who were involved in pedestrian accidents here in 2014.
According to Lexington police figures, the number of "pedestrian-versus-vehicle" accidents had been growing steadily in recent years before declining somewhat in 2014. Sixteen people died in Lexington as a result of being hit by vehicles from 2011 through 2014, according to the Fayette County coroner's office.
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Mason Wade survived his experience. But he suffered a broken elbow, multiple facial fractures and a fractured pelvis, his mother said.
Mason was treated at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, and then spent 12 more days at Lexington's Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital before being released.
Mason also experienced bleeding in his brain, which Kim Wade said was being treated "like a bad concussion."
She said her son has been talking and hugging his parents, although he has experienced some confusion.
Kim Wade said the family is still trying to piece together exactly what happened on the night of Nov. 14.
She said Mason and three friends had planned to spend the night together and were out for a walk when the accident occurred.
"Mason and his other friends took off to run" across the street, she said. "The boys obviously didn't see the cars."
She said the driver "didn't do anything wrong. ... It was simply an accident that didn't need to happen, but it did."
Mason was at least the fourth person hit by a vehicle in Lexington that week.
Issues surrounding pedestrian and vehicle safety vary, but city officials and parents alike realize that there are issues that need to be addressed about collisions that pin the human body and a metal frame against each other.
Dowell Hoskins-Squier, Lexington's traffic engineering director, said the city has formed an internal working group to identify locations that might need improvements to make residents more secure when they're walking city streets.
"In the past, we've done improvements on an ad hoc basis, where it's more reactive. Now, we're going to be more proactive in identifying these areas and getting some improvements put in," she said.
Improvements could include additional pedestrian walk lights, new markings to make crosswalks more visible, or possibly even constructing federally approved curb ramps in selected areas to assist residents who use wheelchairs to get around town, Hoskins-Squier said.
"Our goal is to identify priority areas and request funding in our division's next fiscal year budget request to address the problems," she said.
The working group includes representatives from engineering, traffic engineering, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the city planning division and the city bike-pedestrian coordinator's office.
Hoskins-Squier noted there has been a "spike" in accidents involving pedestrians in recent months.
Two pedestrians died at the same intersection — North Broadway and West Loudon Avenue — in a little more than two months this year.
Tanya Williams, 35, died at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital after being hit by a car and a van at the intersection on Sept. 4. William K. Barbour, 60, died at UK on Nov. 11, shortly after being struck by an SUV at the same location.
Hoskins-Squier said the North Broadway-West Loudon intersection already has crosswalks and pedestrian walk signals — features that should promote pedestrian safety. She noted, however, that pedestrians don't always use the safety features. Police have said that Barbour was not in the crosswalk and was staggering and unsteady on his feet when he was struck.
Officials say that even when crosswalks are available close by, pedestrians sometimes don't use them, trying to save a few seconds by darting across the street instead — with potentially disastrous results.
According to figures provided by Lexington police, the number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents rose steadily between 2011 and 2013.
There were 143 such accidents in 2011; 158 in 2012 and 173 in 2013. And as of Dec. 29, the city had recorded 123 collisions involving pedestrians and vehicles during 2014.
As of late Wednesday, Lexington's last pedestrian fatality of 2014 occurred Dec. 14, when Jacob Hamilton was pronounced dead at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital from injuries he received the day before.
Police said Hamilton, 23, was struck by a red Pontiac while he was waiting for a bus near Wilderness Road. The driver did not stop, but later called police and admitted hitting Hamilton.
Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts says there are multiple factors — intoxication, jaywalking and lack of attention — that can contribute to pedestrian accidents.
"In the majority of cases we have people walking into the roadway, not in the crosswalk in low visibility areas, and sometimes distractions or alcohol is a factor," but "when you talk about visibility, alcohol and distraction, those are the reasons for all collisions," she said. "So it's not that vehicle-versus-pedestrian situations fall into some category of their own. All of the things that cause vehicle-to-vehicle collisions cause vehicle-versus-pedestrian collisions."
Wearing headphones has played an issue in two incidents involving trains. The pedestrians weren't able to see or hear the trains, Roberts said.
However, collisions are largely preventable and "we could see those numbers drop significantly if drivers and pedestrians followed the rules of the road," she said.
Hoskins-Squier agreed with Roberts but said even if the city built safety improvements, you can't make people use them.
"Ultimately you cannot control the behavior of pedestrians," she said. "There are things that people can do to increase risk, and those risky behaviors we can't control. All we can do is make intersections as safe as we can."