Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise across the state and nation. As the fall season settles in, shorter days and more hours of darkness bring an increased risk of crashes involving pedestrians, making this October’s Pedestrian Safety Month more important than ever.
To prevent these fatalities, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is urging drivers and pedestrians to look out for one another and exercise caution this fall.
“There are certain times of the day like at dusk, when visibility is reduced, that are the most dangerous for pedestrians,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “As days continue to get shorter, we’re asking everyone, drivers and pedestrians, to share the road and pay attention to their surroundings. Tragically, 3 out of 4 pedestrian fatalities occur at night.”
Across the U.S., pedestrian deaths have steadily increased over the last decade, up more than 50% since 2012. Last year alone, 7,342 pedestrians were killed or an average of 20 people per day, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In Indiana, 124 pedestrians lost their lives in 2021, which is a 33% increase from the previous year and the highest in the past decade. The counties that saw the highest number of fatalities were Marion (34), Lake (15), Allen (11), Madison (5) and Bartholomew (4). Together, these counties accounted for more than half of the fatal pedestrian crashes in the state.
Moreover, the majority of pedestrian fatalities in Indiana occurred in urban areas (68%) and at night (74%), with September through December being the deadliest time, 10-year data from NHTSA shows.
“We can put a stop to this crisis right now, but it’s going to require people changing their behavior,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “For drivers, it means slowing down, avoiding distractions and driving sober. Pedestrians need to do their part, too, by using crosswalks and staying off their phones. Safety is a two-way street.”
ICJI is encouraging motorists and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road and offered the following safety tips.
Safety Tips for Drivers
- Always watch for pedestrians and avoid distractions. Make eye contact with pedestrians.
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in inclement weather.
- Follow the speed limit, especially in school zones and neighborhoods where children are present.
- Pedestrians have the right of way at any crosswalk or intersection, so yield and be prepared to stop.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, as there may be people crossing.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
- Follow the rules of the road, and obey signs and signals.
- Stay off of cell phones and pay attention to your surroundings. Make eye contact with drivers.
- Look left-right-left before crossing a street.
- Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections and look for cars in all directions.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from it as possible.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking, as they can impair motor skills.
For more information about pedestrian safety, visit NHTSA.gov/pedestrians.