It’s a simple and undisputed fact: Following traffic laws and staying focused can prevent unthinkable tragedy on the road. Yet, in Texas, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities continue to rise.
In 2021 in Texas, 841 people died in pedestrian-related traffic crashes, an increase of 15% from 2020. Crashes involving bicyclists claimed the lives of 92 people. Pedestrian and bicyclists deaths accounted for 20% of the 4,490 fatalities on Texas roadways last year.
“Year after year, we’re seeing fatalities from traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists climb,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Each of us has a shared responsibility to help reverse this trend. Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot or riding a bicycle, we’re asking all Texans to be safe and smart, and that starts with obeying traffic laws.”
TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign urges all Texans to know and follow the laws for safe driving, walking and biking. Those life-saving laws include 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 that drivers 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 and crosswalk signals.
- 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.
Raising awareness of these rules of the road is an important part of TxDOT’s efforts to encourage Texans to do their part to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries.
TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign and pedestrian and bicycle 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.