October is National Pedestrian Safety Month

Bicycle and Pedestrian Deaths Rise Nationwide; Distraction a Big Factor; Pedestrians and Drivers Need to Take Responsibility for Safe Travel
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- There's been an alarming increase in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on the nation's roads over the past few years. Statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association show the number of pedestrian fatalities has jumped by almost three percent in 2019 and another 4.8 percent in 2020, to a grim total of 6,412. In addition, more than 800 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.

The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization about to enter its 60th year of promoting safety on our roads, says distraction is a big factor for the increase.

"Whether driving, walking or on a bicycle, we all share the responsibility to remain alert and aware of others with whom we share the roads and byways," says Michelle Anderson, director of operation at The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF). "It's too easy to be distracted by cellphones and earbuds or, if you're driving a car, distractions could include the radio, GPS or even other people in the car. All of us need to focus on our surroundings, whether we're walking, cycling or driving."

NRSF is launching contests to engage teens in helping get out safety messages that warn drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to be careful sharing the road. Three regional "Drive Safe PSA Contests" are opening in September and October for teens in California, the midwest and the Washington, D.C., area, inviting young people to submit their ideas for a 30-second TV public service announcement on safe driving, walking and bicycling. In addition, the Foundation's national Drive2Life Contest, which launches in late October, will have driver, pedestrian and bicycle safety as its theme.  Prizes of up to $2,000 are being offered and winning ideas will be professionally produced by an Emmy Award-winning team for broadcast on TV stations nationwide. Information on all the contests, including entry forms, can be found at www.nrsf.org/contests.

Last year, even as fewer people traveled on the roads during the height of the pandemic, the traffic death toll rose again by eight percent to 42,060, the highest number in 13 years.  Pedestrians represent more than 17 percent of that total, which is one of the reasons the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared October as National Pedestrian Safety Month.   The week of Oct. 17 – 23 has also been designated National Teen Driver Safety Week.

All road users – drivers, cyclists and pedestrians – should follow some simple rules to stay safe.

Ten tips for walking and cycling safely are:

  1. Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  3. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  4. Keep alert at all times; don't be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  5. Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  6. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
  7. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
  8. Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  9. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  10. Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking or cycling; they impair your abilities and your judgment.

Motorists can share the responsibility to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe by following these rules:

  1. Watch for pedestrians and cyclists everywhere, at all times.
  2. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
  3. Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  4. Yield to pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks and stop well back from the cross-walk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  5. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can't see.
  6. Never drive distracted or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  7. Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  8. Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
  9. Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.

Bicyclists, by law, must follow the same rules of the road as cars if they are on the road.  That includes staying in proper lanes, signaling and not riding impaired.  One-quarter of cyclist deaths in 2019 involved a cyclist who was alcohol-impaired.

The National Road Safety Foundation has free resources on a wide variety of traffic safety issues at www.nrsf.org/resources.

The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that for nearly 60 years has been dedicated to reducing crashes, deaths and injuries on our nation's highways by promoting safe driving habits through greater public awareness.

NRSF programs deal with distracted driving, speed and aggression, impaired driving, drowsy driving, driver proficiency and pedestrian safety. The Foundation also works with key youth advocacy groups and sponsors contests to engage teens in promoting safe driving to their peers and in their communities.


David Reich


914 325-9997

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SOURCE National Road Safety Foundation, Inc.

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