Special to the News-Times
AUSTIN — Fall and winter months bring shorter days and less light, making it harder for drivers to see — and safely avoid — pedestrians.
October saw the highest number of pedestrian crashes in 2022. That’s why TxDOT is using National Pedestrian Safety Month to continue its “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign and remind Texans that pedestrians are our most vulnerable road users.
When he was 6 years old, Misael Rico was walking to school with his mother when a distracted driver crashed into them, dragging him underneath the car. That night, doctors told his parents he might never walk or talk again. After countless surgeries and years of physical therapy, Rico started college this year, and joins TxDOT to urge drivers to pay attention and watch for people walking.
Only 1 percent of crashes in Texas involve pedestrians, yet they make up 19 percent of all traffic deaths. In the last five years, pedestrian traffic fatalities in Texas increased 29.6 percent, reflecting nationwide trends. In 2022, 5,764 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred in Texas, resulting in 829 deaths and 1,526 serious injuries.
“As we shift to fewer hours of daylight, it’s up to drivers and pedestrians to adapt and help keep our roads safe,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Motorists need to stay alert and look for people walking, and pedestrians can take measures to be seen by drivers who may be inattentive behind the wheel.”
TxDOT’s campaign includes TV and radio spots, billboards and digital advertising. TxDOT will also bring more than 30 walking billboards — street teams wearing sandwich boards — to towns that saw the highest numbers of fatalities from pedestrian-related traffic crashes. The street teams will be deployed to put pedestrian safety messages front and center in places where vehicles and pedestrians share the road.
TxDOT encourages everyone to follow these safety tips to prevent a deadly encounter:
•Stop and yield for pedestrians in crosswalks.
•When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
•Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles that can block your view of pedestrians.
•Pay attention and put your phone away so you’re 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 traffic will stop for you.
•Follow all traffic and crosswalk signals.
•When walking, put away electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
•Stay visible. Wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
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 July 26, 2023. To view additional traffic safety data, visit TxDOT’s Traffic Safety Data Portal online.