As pedestrian crashes see a rise across both Mississippi and the nation, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is urging drivers to be extra cautious as Halloween nears.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 94 pedestrian fatalities in Mississippi in 2021, the sixth-highest pedestrian fatality rate in the U.S.
Nationally, over 7,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents that same year, making for a 12.5 percent increase from 2020 and the highest since 1981.
“Pedestrian related crashes are on the rise, both in our state and nationwide. Pedestrians are vulnerable. It’s crucial for drivers to stay vigilant behind the wheel,” MDOT Executive Director Brad White said. “With Halloween and daylight savings approaching, we want to remind drivers to slow down and watch out for pedestrians.”
MDOT has provided the following tips for drivers:
- Watch for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see especially when visibility is lower, including dusk, dawn, night, and poor weather.
- Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
- Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Follow the speed limit and slow down around pedestrians.
- Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, like school zones and neighborhoods.
MDOT also issued some reminders for pedestrians:
- Never attempt to cross an interstate.
- Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
- If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
- Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, audio players, or other devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
- Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
- Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
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