LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) wants motorists and pedestrians to be aware of some important safety tips due to pedestrian fatalities increasing in Texas.
In 2020 in the Lufkin TxDOT district, there were two total pedestrian fatalities for the year. There was one in Nacogdoches County and another in Houston County. So far, in 2021, that number has risen to 10 with Nacogdoches County at six, Polk County at three and San Jacinto County with one.
In March, state officials expressed their concern and warned that the number of pedestrian deaths were increasing statewide, now accounting for one in five of all traffic deaths.
“Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users because they aren’t equipped with protective equipment, such as airbags or seat belts. We want people to be aware and alert to their surroundings whether they are driving, on a bicycle or walking. Pedestrians and motorists should always watch and listen to the roadway. That is even more important during nighttime hours,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer for the Lufkin TxDOT district.
TxDOT offers these safety tips for drivers and pedestrians to prevent a deadly encounter.
- 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. Pedestrians may enter your path suddenly.
- Obey the speed limit and drive to conditions.
- Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks. Look left, right, then look again.
- 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.
Reports from law enforcement indicate that the top two causes for pedestrian deaths in Texas are:
- Pedestrians failing to follow traffic safety laws and being struck when crossing roadways
- Motorists failing to yield the right of way, driving distracted or driving too fast.
Alcohol has also been a factor in pedestrian-related incidents.
TxDOT has spent $153 million since 2015 to make areas more pedestrian accessible. TxDOT also awarded $116 million in grant funding to support projects that provide safer routes to schools, multiuse pathways, sidewalks, and bike paths in rural and small urban areas.