Texas is facing a serious problem, and officials worry that it will only get worse now that summer has arrived. Pedestrians are dying in traffic accidents at an alarming rate. Despite spending millions of dollars on improvements aimed at protecting those on foot, the Texas Department of Transportation reports nearly 600 fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in 2019, 5% more than the previous year. Thousands more suffered serious injuries.
In recent months you may have seen evidence of the state’s efforts to bring attention to this serious issue. TxDOT launched a statewide campaign to remind drivers how vulnerable pedestrians are among traffic, including billboards with slogans like, “Pedestrians don’t come with airbags.” However, if you are someone for whom walking is an enjoyable or necessary way to travel, you may wonder if this new campaign will have a more positive effect than previous efforts.
Authorities have channeled federal and state dollars into numerous plans to reach the goal of zero roadway deaths. This includes building curbs, improving sidewalks and adding striping on roads for the safety of pedestrians. Additionally, TxDOT funded 120 local projects aimed at creating multiuse paths, safe routes for student pedestrians and bike lanes. Of course, you may agree with officials who understand that this work only goes so far if drivers fail to remain alert and follow laws for safety, including:
- Stopping when you or others are in a crosswalk
- Driving the speed limit or slower when pedestrians are around
- Using caution when passing public transportation vehicles where people may be disembarking
- Paying attention in parking lots or other places where pedestrians are common
- Yielding the right of way to you and other pedestrians before turning
- Keeping their phones out of their hands and out of sight while driving
- Refusing to drive after drinking alcohol
There are steps you can take, too, for improving your chances of arriving safely at your destination. For example, staying on sidewalks as much as possible, using crosswalks, wearing bright clothing and facing traffic as you walk may make you more visible to motorists, which may protect you from an accident.
However, even if you do all the right things as a pedestrian, you are still vulnerable to accidents and injuries if drivers do not do their part. All the millions of dollars authorities spend on safety campaigns and road improvements do not change the fact that each and every driver must make the right decisions behind the wheel.