Everyone is responsible for pedestrian safety, drivers especially

INDIANAPOLIS — October is National Pedestrian Safety Month. Given the recent rise in pedestrian fatalities, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is urging drivers and pedestrians to stay alert and watch out for one another.

So far this year, 96 pedestrians have been killed and 1,272 injured in traffic crashes in Indiana, according to preliminary data from ICJI. That’s 8 more fatalities or a 9 percent increase compared to this time last year.

More pedestrian fatalities are occurring in urban areas than rural, with Marion, Allen and Lake counties seeing the highest number of fatalities. Combined, these three counties alone accounted for half of the pedestrian fatalities in the state.

“Although safety is a two-way street, pedestrians and bicyclists are at an inherent disadvantage,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Drivers need to do their part in preventing these injuries and fatalities by slowing down, being mindful of pedestrians and following the rules of the road.”

Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director

Motorists are encouraged to watch out for pedestrians at all times, but especially in inclement weather and late in the afternoon. Data from ICJI shows the highest number of collisions occurred last year between 3-6 p.m.

Drivers should slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk. Yield to pedestrians, and never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, as there may be people crossing that are difficult to see.

Furthermore, following the speed limit, being extra cautious when backing up and never driving impaired are all critical in keeping pedestrians safe.

“It’s starting to get darker earlier now, and as we move into fall weather, people need to be extra vigilant,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “October is the deadliest month for pedestrians. Let’s change that by working together and always erring on the safe side.”

Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director

However, drivers aren’t the only ones that need to take precautions. It’s important for pedestrians to stay alert at all times and walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If a sidewalk isn’t available, pedestrians are encouraged to walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible. They should also cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians.

What’s more, it’s important to look for vehicles in all directions, paying special attention to cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots. For pedestrians, increasing visibility by wearing bright clothing during the day and reflective materials or using a flashlight at night is another important safety precaution.

For more information about pedestrian safety, visit NHTSA.gov/pedestrians.