Pain of Loss Highlights Rising Trend of Bicycle and Pedestrian Crashes

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TxDOT urges drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to follow state laws and save lives

AUSTIN – Katie Parker still gets nervous just crossing the street. Eight years ago, a careless driver plowed into her and her dog, Riley, while they were out for a jog. Parker was hit with such force that she was thrown more than 60 feet. Riley, a Great Dane, was killed on what was supposed to be a pleasant morning jog.

The mental and physical toll from the 2016 crash continues for Parker. The physical scars have mostly healed, but she doesn’t feel safe while walking or driving. Her story is an example of the impact crashes can have on survivors.

“The crash changed my life,” Parker said. “I lost my dog, and my sense of safety when crossing the street.”

Parker is joining TxDOT this spring during its “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign to remind Texans why it’s important to follow traffic laws to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

“Too many people are killed or seriously injured every year in Texas walking, jogging or biking in their communities,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said. “We want all Texans—whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot or on a bike—to watch out for each other and follow the rules of the road so everyone gets where they’re going safely.”

In 2022, 922 people died in traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in Texas, accounting for one out of every five fatalities on the state’s roadways. It’s a part of a rising trend in recent years as pedestrian fatalities increased 30% and bicyclist fatalities increased 28% in the five years from 2018 to 2022.

“Be Safe. Drive Smart” urges all Texans to learn and follow the laws for safe driving, walking and biking. As part of this effort, TxDOT is sending teams of walking billboards to cities around the state to put key safety reminders in front of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists in crash-prone areas.

If you’re driving in Texas, state law requires you to:

  • 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.
  • Always follow the speed limit and drive at a safe speed.

If you’re walking:

  • Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals, including at crosswalks.
  • Use sidewalks. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic, unless the left side is obstructed or unsafe.

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, ensure your bike has a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.

TxDOT’s Be Safe. Drive Smart. campaign and pedestrian and bicyclist 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. 

Rhonda Oaks
Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.

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