Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in the Lufkin District, and TxDOT wants both motorists and pedestrians to be aware of important safety tips that could save a life.
In 2020, pedestrian fatalities totaled two in the nine-county district, one each in Nacogdoches and Houston counties. So far, in 2021, that number has risen to 10 pedestrian fatalities, with Nacogdoches County at six, Polk County at three and San Jacinto County at one.
In March, state officials warned that pedestrian deaths were rising statewide and account for one in five of all traffic fatalities.
“We are concerned that these numbers are up, especially in Nacogdoches County,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “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.”
Since 2015, TxDOT has spent $153 million in federal and state funding to upgrade sidewalks, curbs and striping for pedestrian accessibility, safety, and mobility. In addition, during that same time, TxDOT awarded $116 million in grant funding to support more than 120 sponsored projects that provide safe routes to schools, multiuse pathways, sidewalks, and bike paths in rural and small urban areas.
Crash reports from law enforcement indicate the two leading causes for pedestrian fatalities are: 1) pedestrians failing to follow traffic safety laws and being struck when crossing roadways, and 2) 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 offers these safety tips 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.
TxDOT’s pedestrian safety campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel. Always wear a seat belt, drive the speed limit, never text while driving, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.