Texas Sees Dramatic Rise in Pedestrian, Bicyclist Deaths
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths account for one in five of all traffic fatalities in Texas, and the state’s Department of Transportation (TxDOT) hopes its new public-awareness campaign will put an end to an alarming increase in those numbers.
Traffic crashes decreased in 2020, but 731 people died in pedestrian-related crashes, an increase of 9% from 2019. Crashes involving bicyclists claimed the lives of 82 people, up from 68 deaths the previous year.
TxDOT said widespread failure to follow state laws is probably behind the increase in fatalities.
“More than 800 people lost their lives last year while walking and biking on Texas roads,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Even one death is too many. Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot, or riding a bicycle, we’re reminding all Texans that they need to be safe and smart, and that starts with paying attention to driving and obeying traffic laws.”
Laws for Safe Walking, Biking and Driving
TxDOT said drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicycles when turning, and pass bicyclists at a safe distance to give them room to ride.
Bicyclists are required to obey all traffic signs and signals, including stopping at red lights and stop signs.
State laws also dictate those who ride bicycles must use hand signals when turning or stopping, ride with traffic, use bike lanes, or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb.
When riding at night, cyclists should make sure their bikes have a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.
Pedestrians must cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks, obey all traffic and crosswalk signals, and stay on sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the street or road, facing oncoming traffic.