TxDOT warns drivers ahead of shorter daylight hours

It’s National Pedestrian Safety Month, and the Texas Department of Transportation is warning drivers about the dangers of driving during the fall and winter months.

HOUSTON – It’s National Pedestrian Safety Month, and the Texas Department of Transportation is warning drivers about the dangers of driving during the fall and winter months.

Fall and winter don’t only mean cooler temperatures, but we also get fewer hours of daylight and visibility becomes an issue, making it harder to spot pedestrians in the dark. It’s already tricky out there for pedestrians and cyclists to get around fast-moving traffic, but these driving dangers are amplified as we start to lose daylight earlier.

TxDOT wants to remind drivers and pedestrians to stay alert and watch out for each other. Pedestrian traffic deaths went up by 15% in Texas last year. The Lone Star State saw more than 5,000 traffic crashes involving pedestrians, and more than 800 of those crashes were deadly.

So drivers, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks— when it’s dark, it’s harder to see them crossing,
  • And your reaction time is key, so it’s imperative that you keep your full attention on the road and put your cell phones down.
  • When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles— be aware of students getting off the bus or people getting dropped off at their destination.
  • And stick to the posted speed limit-- in case you see someone unexpectedly cross the street.

The warning isn’t just for drivers-- pedestrians play a big role in maintaining safety

  • If you’re walking, cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks. Look left, right, then left again before crossing.
  • Follow all traffic and crosswalk signs.
  • Keep your head up! avoid looking at something other than the direction you’re walking
  • Remember to wear reflective clothing or use a flashlight — even if you’re just taking a short brisk evening stroll in your neighborhood. It’s important for drivers to pay attention and look out for people walking, and for pedestrians to make sure they take steps to be seen
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.

About the Author:

Traffic expert and What’s Driving Houston reporter, proud Latina, lover of animals, food and our beautiful planet.