ATLANTA – Dozens of traffic crashes across Northeast Texas in 2021 involved pedestrians, and every death is devastating for their loved ones. This spring, as warm weather brings out pedestrians and bicyclists, TxDOT is reminding drivers why it’s important to follow traffic safety laws, including stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.
In the Atlanta District in 2021, there were 48 traffic crashes involving pedestrians, resulting in 9 fatalities and 19 serious injuries. There were 13 crashes involving bicyclists, resulting in 2 fatalities.
“Failure to yield the right of way, driver inattention and speeding were the top causes of pedestrian-involved crashes across Texas in 2021,” said Atlanta District Engineer Rebecca Wells. “We want to remind drivers that laws are there to protect us all. One life lost is too many.”
“We have a shared responsibility to every member of our community – to every family and every individual – to help reverse these trends and reduce traffic fatalities in Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “We’re asking all Texans to watch out for one another whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot, or on a bike. Obeying traffic safety laws is a critical first step.”
In 2021, 935 people died in pedestrian and bicyclist-related traffic crashes in Texas, accounting for one out of every five of the 4,496 fatalities on state roadways. In the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, pedestrian fatalities resulting from traffic crashes increased 34% and bicyclist fatalities increased 58%.
TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign urges all Texans to know and follow the laws for safe driving, walking and biking. That includes the Lisa Torry Smith Act, which went into effect in 2021. Named after a Texas mom who was struck and killed in a crosswalk while walking her six-year-old son to school, the law requires drivers to stop and yield the right of way to people in crosswalks. Motorists who fail to stop and yield and cause serious injury to someone in a crosswalk can face criminal penalties.
Texas law states if you’re driving:
- Stop and yield for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users in crosswalks.
- When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Pass bikes at a safe distance and give bicyclists room to ride.
If you’re walking:
- Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals, including at crosswalks.
- Use sidewalks. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
If you’re riding a bike:
- Always stop at red lights and stop signs.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb.
- Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
- At night, make sure your bike has a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.
TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign and pedestrian and bicyclist safety initiative are key components of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.