Texas saw an alarming rise in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in 2020, and over the last five years.
Last year, 731 people died in pedestrian-related crashes, a 9 percent increase from the year before, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. In addition, 82 bicyclists were killed, up 68 deaths from 2019. About 25 percent of the bicyclist/ pedestrian fatalities from last year involved alcohol.
These fatalities make up 1 out 5 of all traffic fatalities in the state. This past week in Central Texas alone, Killeen traffic investigators reported two pedestrian crashes over the weekend - one leading to the fatality of 58-year old Peter Douglas Robertson. In Falls County, a 15-year-old boy died after being struck by a vehicle during a morning run on Monday, Aug. 9.
According to safety officials, the rise in fatalities is largely due to widespread failure in following state laws. To spread knowledge on state laws that are designed to protect bicyclists and pedestrians, TxDOT is beginning its public awareness campaign this month to help Texans walk smart, bike smart, and drive smart.
“More than 800 people lost their lives last year in pedestrian and bicycle-related crashes on Texas roads. One death is too many,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot or riding a bicycle, we’re reminding all Texans that they need to be safe and smart, and that starts with obeying traffic laws.”
State laws include stopping for pedestrians, yielding the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists when making a turn in your vehicle, passing at a safe distance, and giving them space on roadways. Bicyclists like drivers are required to follow traffic signals and stop at red lights as well as stop signs.
Bicyclists are asked to use hand signals when turning or stopping, and use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb. At night, bikes must have a white light on the front and a red light or a reflector on the back.
Pedestrians are mandated to cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks, obey signals, and always use sidewalks. If no sidewalk is available, pedestrians are asked to walk on the left side of the street/ road facing traffic.
These reminders will be advertised to Texans on TV, billboards, gas pumps, buses, and social media this month.
Additionally, TxDOT has awarded more than $300 million to support locally-sponsored projects, in both rural and urban areas, that will provide safe routes to schools, multiuse paths, updated or new sidewalks, bikeways, curb ramps, and striping for pedestrian safety.
According to TxDOT, the “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign is part of a broader social media initiative to have Texans make safer choices when driving.
Nov. 7, 2000 was the last day that Texas did not report any deaths on its roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texas drivers to do their part in helping to end the streak of daily deaths.