The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration are celebrating October as National Pedestrian Safety Month and strengthening their efforts to improve safety for vulnerable road users. DOT has produced a suite of free resources for use by partners, states, local communities, or any concerned members of the public.
The emphasis on pedestrian safety comes as data show that in 2019 alone, there were 6,205 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States. Older adults, Black and Indigenous people, and people walking in low-income communities continue to be disproportionately represented in pedestrian fatal crashes.
“We all can and must do more to make sure people feel safe when they are walking, whether it’s to work, to school or to a transit stop,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Everyone deserves to have safer streets and more walk-able communities, which is why safety is such a big part of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation now before Congress.”
“On average, a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes in a traffic crash in 2019 — a haunting fact,” said Dr. Steve Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator. “We must all work together to prevent and eliminate crashes leading to serious injuries and deaths of our nation’s pedestrians.”
“Our roads and streets must be safe and feel safe for pedestrians so that they can get to their destinations safely and seamlessly,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “All of us – state and local transportation agencies, planners and road designers, drivers and safety advocates – can contribute to improving safety for people who walk and roll.”
Each week in October will focus on a particular theme:
- October 4-11, Everyone Is a Pedestrian, celebrates the many benefits of walking and how we can encourage more walking by creating a safer transportation system.
- October 11-15, Safe Speeds Save Lives, reminds drivers that speed limits are not merely suggestions. The risk of death to pedestrians grows dramatically as vehicle speed increases. Slower speeds can help save lives.
- October 18-22, Safe Vehicles, encourages the public to learn about the new lifesaving technologies that can help protect pedestrians, including pedestrian automatic emergency braking, rear backup cameras, pedestrian-friendly front structures, and better headlights for identifying pedestrians.
- October 25-29, Safe Roads, promotes the idea that a Complete Street is safe, and feels safe, for all users.
- The complete communications guide and toolkit are available for download.
As part of Pedestrian Safety Month, DOT is also encouraging stakeholders to learn more about the safe system approach, which is based on the concept that everyone, including those who plan, design, build, operate, and use our transportation system, share in the responsibility for road safety.
The elements of the safe system approach include:
- Safe People: Encourage safe, responsible behavior by people who use our roads, and create conditions that prioritize their ability to reach their destination unharmed.
- Safe Speeds: Promote safer speeds in all roadway environments through a combination of thoughtful, targeted, context-appropriate outreach campaigns, judicious enforcement, the setting of appropriate speed limits, and road design.
- Safe Roads: To encourage safer behaviors, and to facilitate safe travel by the most vulnerable users, design roadway environments to accommodate human mistakes and injury tolerances.
- Safe Vehicles: Expand the availability of vehicle designs and features that help to prevent crashes and minimize the impact of crashes on both occupants and non-occupants.
- Post-Crash Care: Enhance the survivability of people in crashes through expedient access to emergency medical care. Create a safe working environment for vital first responders and prevent secondary crashes through robust traffic incident management practices.