MDOT urges pedestrian traffic safety

With an increasing number of traffic crashes involving a pedestrian, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is reminding drivers of the importance of slowing down and watching out for pedestrians.

A pedestrian is any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States. That’s 18 pedestrians a day and 125 pedestrians a week. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 81 minutes in a traffic crash. This is a 3.9 percent increase from 2019. Mississippi had the third highest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population.

“Pedestrian related crashes are on the rise not only in Mississippi, but across the country. It’s crucial for drivers to stay vigilant when behind the wheel because pedestrians are vulnerable,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “And with Halloween and daylight savings quickly approaching, we want to remind drivers to slow down and watch out for pedestrians.”

NHTSA reported that in 2020, 77 percent of fatal pedestrian involved crashes happened after sunset.

Studies done by Active Transportation Alliance show that slowing down can decrease the risk and severity of a pedestrian involved crash, regardless of the time of day. A person hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has a 90 percent survival rate but has only a 10 percent survival rate if the driver is traveling 40 mph.

Below are some tips for drivers:

  • Watch for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see especially when visibility is lower, including dusk, dawn, night and poor weather.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
  • Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit and slow down around pedestrians.
  • Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, like school zones and neighborhoods.

Below are tips for pedestrians:

  • Never attempt to cross an interstate.
  • Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
  • If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
  • Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, audio players or other devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
  • Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.