WESLACO, Texas (KVEO) — Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are concerned with the steady increase in pedestrian deaths in Texas.
TxDOT officials warn that pedestrian deaths are continuing to rise in Texas, and now account for 1 in 5 of traffic fatalities.
In 2019, 5,975 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred in Texas, resulting in 669 deaths, a 5% increase in fatalities over the previous year. Another 1,317 people were seriously injured.
Public Information Officer for TxDOT, Octavio Saenz, said everyone should be more vigilant when driving. If pedestrians are on a crosswalk, they need to make direct eye contact with the driver before crossing, and to not assume the driver will stop.
The Rio Grande Valley has also seen an increase in pedestrian deaths.
“Here in the Rio Grande Valley, there has been an increase. In 2019, there were 206 traffic crashes here in the Rio Grande Valley area, which involved pedestrians. And it resulted in 17 facilities and 40 serious injuries,” said Saenz.
He says the data also shows men accounted for 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2019.
Saenz said it boils down to pedestrians and drivers paying attention to one another.
“Pedestrians are not yielding the right-of-way to vehicles and they’re being struck when crossing streets and the highways. And also, drivers are failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, especially at intersections and at crosswalks,” said Saenz.
He added drivers should reduce their speed when approaching crosswalks and double-check for pedestrians.
If it is dark out while you are walking or running, Saenz recommends carrying a flashlight or reflective clothing so drivers can spot you.