October is National Pedestrian Safety Month. It’s also known to be traditionally one of the worst months of the year when it comes to fatal accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
As part of the effort to combat deadly car/pedestrian incidents, the Texas Department of Transportation has launched a new campaign called “Be Safe. Drive Smart.”
Animosity between drivers and bicyclists or pedestrians is not helpful. Drivers, walkers, and cyclists should obey the laws intended to keep them all safe. Drivers must give bicyclists space to ride and only pass when they have room to do so safely. Drivers must also yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Cyclists must also obey traffic laws, including stopping at traffic lights and stop signs. They must use proper hand signals, stay near the right hand curb or in bike lanes, and maintain proper safety equipment.
Pedestrians are required to obey traffic and crosswalk signals. They must cross the road at intersections or crosswalks and otherwise stay on the sidewalk when possible. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians must walk on the left side where they can see cars coming on that side of the road and move over if necessary.
One of the main culprits in pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. Cell phones have contributed to countless accidents by distracting drivers, as well as pedestrians, who might otherwise have been aware of the danger in time to correct it. The side streets where pedestrians are more likely to be found can encourage drivers to engage in distracted driving because of the relatively slower speeds involved.
Alcohol is also a significant factor in many pedestrian accidents. Impaired drivers are less likely to take notice of pedestrians and cyclists and give them the space they need.
October’s deadly reputation when it comes to pedestrian accidents is, naturally, connected to Halloween. Trick or treating brings countless excited children out onto the streets. Parents need to be aware of the potential harm and help their children practice safe walking. If possible, drivers should attempt to stay off the roads during this time.
Additionally, autumn days get shorter. While the weather is nearly ideal for people to go for a stroll, the shorter days means they run the risk of walking in the dark. Pedestrians should remember to bring flashlights and wear reflective clothing if they plan to be on the streets after sunset.