The US Department of Transportation has declared October “National Pedestrian Safety Month,” according to a news release by the agency. The move comes amidst an epidemic of traffic violence that killed 6,516 pedestrians in 2020, according to the DOT, or 18 per day on average. “National Pedestrian Safety Month,” the announcement states, “celebrates the right of everyone to walk or roll safely and reminds drivers of their responsibility to stay alert for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users.”
Traffic violence does not affect all pedestrians equally. As the DOT explains, its data shows that American Indian and Alaska Native pedestrians “are almost three times more likely to die walking than the general public, on a per 100,000 person basis,” while Black or African American pedestrians “are more than 50% more likely to die walking than the general public.”
Because data shows that the majority of pedestrian deaths happen after dark, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration published a “Pedestrian Lifetime Primer” earlier this year. The document serves as a resource for transportation officials seeking to upgrade pedestrian lighting systems in order to make streets safer for pedestrians. The FHWA’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety also includes a partnership with the Federal Transit Administration to publish a guide to increasing safety measures and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, meanwhile, will run an advertising campaign later this month “to educate drivers about the dangers of illegally passing stopped school buses and pedestrian safety for children when boarding and leaving a school bus.”
In a statement about National Pedestrian Safety Month, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said: “We live in an era when it is safer to fly in an airplane 30,000 feet above the ground than it is to walk down the street… This National Pedestrian Safety Month, we must redouble our efforts to address the urgent national crisis on our nation’s roads, and do everything in our power to keep pedestrians safe.”
More information about the US Department of Transportation’s efforts to reduce traffic violence by making the nation’s roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users is available via the agency’s newsroom.