TxDOT Warns of Increase in Pedestrian Fatalities as Spring Break Approaches

Pedestrians now account for 1 in 5 traffic deaths in Texas  

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NBC 5 News

As spring approaches and more Texans take to the streets, TxDOT is reminding drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other. 

State officials warn that pedestrian deaths continue to rise in Texas and now account for 1 in 5 of all traffic fatalities.

In 2019, 5,975 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred in Texas, resulting in 669 deaths, a 5% increase in fatalities over the previous year, TxDOT said. Another 1,317 people were seriously injured. 

"From 2015 to 2019, traffic crashes claimed the lives of 3,150 pedestrians," TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. "To reach our goal of zero deaths on Texas roadways we need all drivers to obey the rules of the road, stay alert and take responsibility for looking out for pedestrians, and for pedestrians to follow safety tips." 

TxDOT said it has spent $153 million in federal and state funding since 2015 to upgrade sidewalks, curbs, and striping for pedestrian accessibility, safety and mobility.

During that same time, TxDOT also awarded $116 million in grant funding to support more than 120 locally sponsored projects that provide safe routes to schools, multi-use pathways, sidewalks, and bike paths in rural and small urban areas. 

According to TxDOT, crash reports from law enforcement indicate the two leading causes for pedestrian fatalities are pedestrians failing to follow traffic safety laws and being struck when crossing streets and roadways, and motorists failing to yield the right of way, driving distracted, or driving too fast.

Alcohol also is a factor in pedestrian-related crashes, deaths and injuries, TxDOT said. 

TxDOT said pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users because they do not have protective equipment like airbags, seat belts, and bumpers.

TxDOT is launching a socially distanced outreach campaign this month near intersections and high traffic areas in major cities in Texas to deliver messages at street level.

This "walking billboard" public education effort will use attention-grabbing visuals to remind motorists and pedestrians that "pedestrians don't come with airbags" and "you can't fix a pedestrian at a body shop," TxDOT said.

TxDOT is offering safety tips for drivers and pedestrians to prevent to deadly encounters.

For drivers:

  • When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles.
  • Pay attention and put your phone away as pedestrians may enter your path suddenly.
  • Obey the speed limit and be aware of road conditions.

For pedestrians:

  • 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.
  • Obey all traffic and crosswalks 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 bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night
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