As Texans enjoy summer activities outdoors, TxDOT’s Be Safe. Drive Smart. campaign urges drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other as pedestrian deaths continue to rise.
In 2021, 5,366 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred in Texas, and as a result 841 people were killed, a 15% increase in pedestrian fatalities over the previous year. Another 1,470 people were seriously injured.
“Only 1% of traffic crashes in Texas involve pedestrians, yet pedestrians account for 19% of all roadway deaths,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “That’s because pedestrians lack the protective equipment—airbags, seat belts and bumpers—common to vehicles. To keep our most vulnerable road users safe, we urge motorists to always be on the lookout for people walking. Pedestrians also have the responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and follow the rules of the road.”
Crash reports from law enforcement indicate the leading factors of pedestrian-related traffic crashes include 1) pedestrians failing to yield the right of way to vehicles, 2) driver inattention, 3) motorists failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians, 4) failure to control speed, and 5) drivers and/or pedestrians being under the influence of alcohol.
The campaign includes TV, radio, billboards and digital advertising. In addition, “walking billboards” will deliver safety messages in the state’s major metro areas with a high volume of pedestrian traffic where it’s easy for drivers and people on foot to see them.
TxDOT offers these safety reminders to prevent a deadly encounter:
- Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
- When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
- Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles.
- Pay attention and put your phone away, so you’re always prepared if pedestrians enter your path.
- Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions.
For people walking:
- Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks. Look left, right, then left again before crossing.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing. Don’t assume drivers see you.
- Follow all traffic and crosswalk signals.
- Use the sidewalk. If there isn’t one, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
- When walking, put away electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
- Wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
TxDOT’s pedestrian safety campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.
The information contained in this report represents reportable data collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). This information was received and processed by the department as of May 4, 2022.
Contributed by Tim McAlavy