With October marking the beginning of National Pedestrian Safety Month, the U.S. Department of Transportation is reminding drivers of their responsibility to stay alert for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users.
In 2020, 6,516 pedestrians were killed in the United States – an average of 18 pedestrians a day. And in 2021, pedestrian fatalities were projected to be up 13% over 2020.
In January, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy, focusing to reduce traffic fatalities. The strategy includes initiatives across multiple USDOT agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“We live in an era when it is safer to fly in an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground than it is to walk down the street,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This National Pedestrian Safety Month, we must redouble our efforts to address the urgent national crisis on our nation’s roads, and do everything in our power to keep pedestrians safe.”
Due to most pedestrian fatalities occuring at night, FHWA recently published the Pedestrian Lighting Primer, a resource for transportation practitioners installing and improving pedestrian lighting at locations with existing and future pedestrian activity.
The FHWA has also partnered with FTA to improve safety for pedestrian and bicyclists near transit stops. The agencies released a new guide, Improving Safety for Pedestrians and Bicyclists Accessing Transit, to address common safety issues likely to arise near transit stations, bus stops, and other places where bus or rail transit systems operate. The guide is aimed at helping transit agencies, state and local roadway owners, and regional organizations in addressing pedestrian and bicyclist safety concerns in accessing transit.
As part of efforts to improve pedestrian safety, NHTSA is also launching a new paid media campaign from October 10-31 to educate drivers about the dangers of illegally passing stopped school buses and pedestrian safety for children when boarding and leaving a school bus.
National Pedestrian Safety Month also highlights the disparities in pedestrian safety and the importance of equity in road safety for all. Black and Native American pedestrians are disproportionately killed in the United States, as compared to white pedestrians.
National Pedestrian Safety Month spotlights a different aspect of the safe system approach each week:
- Week 1, Safer People: Celebrates the many benefits of walking and how we can encourage more walking by creating a safer system for people who walk or roll.
- Week 2, Safer Speeds & Safer Roads: Recognizes the importance of how motorists driving at safer speeds can save lives and highlights the vital role that safer roads play in reducing fatal crashes and injuries.
- Week 3, Safer Vehicles: Looks at vehicle solutions – vehicles that provide occupant crash protection, and technology can help prevent crashes from occurring in the first place. Technologies like pedestrian automatic emergency braking can help protect those outside of the vehicle. Vehicle standards can also help reduce the severity of injuries. The front ends of vehicles can be designed to reduce the impact of a crash.
- Week 4, Post-Crash Care: Focuses on providing bystander assistance and care to injured pedestrians, which may be critical in treating injuries and saving lives.