The Texas Department of Transportation is continuing its year-long Be Safe, Drive Smart campaign with a push for pedestrian safety.
Last year, there were 35 traffic crashes involving pedestrians in Bryan-College Station, which resulted in two fatalities and six serious injuries. In Texas, there were 5,694 traffic crashes involving pedestrians, which caused 632 deaths and 1,205 injuries. Brazos and nine other surrounding counties including Grimes, Leon and Washington had 68 pedestrian crashes with 10 fatalities and 11 serious injuries.
Be Safe, Drive Smart is part of TxDOT’s bigger #EndTheStreakTX campaign. Since Nov. 7, 2000, at least one person has died on a Texas roadway. TxDOT public information officer Bobby Colwell said the department is working to educate people on safe driving practices to stop that record.
“It’s an anniversary that we aren’t happy about,” Colwell said. “We are trying to do whatever we can to get drivers’ attentions, pedestrians’ attentions, anyone who uses our roadways, to be as safe as possible.”
Colwell said pedestrians can stay safe by looking both ways when crossing the street, making eye contact with drivers before stepping into the road, using sidewalks, avoiding cell phone use when walking near roadways and wearing light or reflective clothing after dark.
Pedestrian safety requires diligent attention from drivers, pedestrians and government agencies, Texas A&M Transportation Institute senior research engineer Kay Fitzpatrick said.
“I think everyone needs to participate,” Fitzpatrick, who specializes in pedestrian safety research, said. “TxDOT, the cities, the drivers and pedestrians need to be doing things. Everyone has to be active to keep the roadways safe.”
A large portion of Texas’ pedestrian crashes occur on freeways, Fitzpatrick said, usually when people pull over to tend to vehicles that are having problems or when someone tries to cross the freeway.
Fitzpatrick has studied various pedestrian traffic controls and said the rectangular rapid flashing beacon that was made in the early 2000s has helped keep people safe. In Arizona and surrounding areas, there are hundreds of pedestrian hybrid beacons, which Fitzpatrick said is also extremely effective in reducing accidents.
“We know that painting the crosswalk markings is not enough,” Fitzpatrick said. “You have to do more. You have to put in signs. You have to sometimes put in lights that flash and sometimes you have to put in a traffic control signal or pedestrian hybrid beacon which has a red light indication that requires drivers to stop.”
Colwell said TxDOT is determined to educate drivers and pedestrians about multiple safety tips in their effort to reduce roadway fatalities in Texas.
“These lives we are losing are our neighbors, they’re our mothers and dads, they’re our children and they’re our brothers and sisters,” Colwell said. “We want to really try to end the streak.”