AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation wants you to be extra safe on the roads this month. As the days get shorter and it is darker out, accidents are on the rise, according to TxDOT. Because of this, October has been declared National Pedestrian Safety month.
Meteorologist Nick Bannin spoke with TxDOT about the seasonal shift and increase in accidents. You can read the transcript below or watch the video above to learn more.
Nick Bannin, KXAN News: Glynda Chu joins us from TxDOT. Glynda, we’re talking about the darker months of the year. We’re already noticing the sun rising later and the setting earlier now and the impact it has on pedestrian fatalities. What can you tell us?
Glynda Chu, TxDOT: Well, October through January are always called our dark months. And for the reason that you just mentioned it starts getting darker earlier in the morning and early evening. Pedestrians are more difficult to see when they’re out there.
So we have made October national pedestrian safety month. And we appreciate you drawing attention to our Be Safe, Drive Smart, Walk Smart Campaign.
Bannin: What does that campaign hope to do and educate people about?
Chu: Basically being aware of pedestrians when they’re out. Be aware of bicyclists. At some point in our daily lives, we’re all pedestrians. Last year, just in October and Texas, we had 631 fatal pedestrian crashes.
Bannin: Is any of your education campaign aimed toward the pedestrians and bicyclists, too, because in some ways the onus is on them to be seen as well as the drivers to make sure they can see them?
Chu: Definitely. And another problem we are seeing with pedestrians is about 86% of these pedestrian crashes happened not at intersections. People were darting across the road, and they were struck by a vehicle. Everybody has a responsibility out there.
Bannin: As part of your Be Safe, Drive Smart campaign. You’re putting out a number of street teams — what do you hope for those street teams to do?
Chu: Well, we’re putting them in very active areas where there are a lot of pedestrians so that the pedestrians will see the size as well as drivers. I know Congress Avenue is always very busy. We have a lot of tourists in that area. Sixth Street is very busy. And so we’re trying to concentrate across the state in areas that have the highest concentration of pedestrians.