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The high rate of fatal pedestrian accidents in Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, including its infrastructure of roads and highways. The Lone Star State boasts more miles of public roads than any other state in the country. Needless to say, getting around via automobile is not difficult in Texas.

Unfortunately, the car culture of El Paso and other large cities has made it harder for people to travel efficiently or safely using other methods. Pedestrians seem to face the most serious challenges. According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Texas had the second-highest rate of fatal pedestrian accidents in 2012.

In all of 2012, approximately 4,473 pedestrians were killed in accidents on U.S. roads. Of these fatalities, 478 occurred here in Texas. The state with the most pedestrian deaths that year was California, with Florida coming in third.

These statistics were released as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Everyone is a Pedestrian” campaign. The acting head of the NHTSA explained why we all have a stake in reducing pedestrian accidents, particularly in urban areas where almost 75 percent of such deaths occur. He noted that, “These are parents, these are children, these are our fathers and mothers and grandparents who are being affected by traffic crashes when they’re in their most vulnerable state. They don’t have two tons of metal, glass and plastic surrounding them.”

Pedestrians also have an important role to play in protecting their own safety. Statistics show that approximately 70 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occur at non-intersections. Simply deciding to use the crosswalk (instead of jaywalking) and waiting for the crossing signal could significantly reduce one’s chances of being struck and killed.

For drivers, reducing pedestrian accidents will likely require more sustained attention behind the wheel, particularly when driving in busy areas with significant foot traffic. Pedestrians could come out into the street at any time, and motorists need to be able to react quickly if they dart in front of vehicles.

Texas holds many records worth boasting about, but our rate of pedestrian fatalities is not among them. Please make pedestrian safety a priority every time you walk or drive.

Source: NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, “Texas Has 2nd Highest Number of Pedestrian Deaths: DOT Report,” An Phung, April 26, 2014