Making San Antonio Safer for Pedestrians

Last week, on the night of April 11th, an auto-pedestrian accident happened in San Antonio at about 10:30 p.m. According to reports, a man in a wheelchair was rolling along on a sidewalk, when a driver was pulling out of a gas station on Perrin Beitel Road near Northeast Interstate Loop 410, and she hit him.

When paramedics arrived, they found the man suffering from leg injuries and immediately transported him to the nearest hospital for treatment. Investigators are looking into the accident and wondering why the driver did not see him.

San Antonio Isn’t As Safe for Pedestrians As It Could Be

This serves as another in a series of reminders that the number of pedestrians who are injured n Texas roads increases every year. Officials in the state see the problem, and the state is working on the problem. For instance, they are making more signs, adding more marked crosswalks, and building new sidewalks wherever they possibly can. Texas state officials are also trying to remind pedestrians that, while they usually have the right of way, they should do their part, by making sure they’re visible, especially at night.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, more than 5,900 accidents nationwide led to pedestrian deaths. That’s about 16 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the country, and Texas has been a major part of that. So has San Antonio. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) notes that a pedestrian is killed in traffic once per week, on average, a rate that is second only to Houston in the state of Texas.

San Antonio leaders are well aware of the problem, and they are working hard to make streets safer for everyone, especially pedestrians. When people are unable to feel safe walking for their health or recreation, or when don’t feel safe walking for transportation, everyone’s quality of life suffers.

The Biggest Problem: Drivers

The biggest reason there are so many accidents involving pedestrians is a seeming lack of concern on the part of drivers. Among the most common causes cited for pedestrian accidents include speeding, failure to stop at a traffic light or stop sign, driving under the influence and distracted driving. In fact, many traffic safety experts note that many of the distractions for both drivers and pedestrians are among the fastest-growing reasons for traffic-related pedestrian accidents. TxDOT cites driver distraction as the #2 cause of accidents in the state.

In 2015, San Antonio became a Vision Zero city, which means they developed a Vision Zero Action Plan under the city’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department (TCI). That plan included five elements for a safe transportation system, including:

  • Education: They are working with school districts to keep information going to area students and teachers, as well as staff and parents.
  • Encouragement: They are attempting to reach at least a half million social media users.
  • Engineering: Implement at least 10 Vision Zero projects every year. S far, they have installed pedestrian mid-block crossings and Z-crossings to keep everyone safer.
  • Enforcement: Encouraging the state legislature and local officials to establish a camera speed enforcement pilot program in school zones.
  • Evaluation: Identify 20 high crash corridors and 20 high-crash intersections and encourage improvement at these locations.

What Can Pedestrians Do to Prevent Accidents?

  • Texas law says that pedestrians are required to obey all traffic signals, including those displaying “wait”, “walk”, or “don’t walk” signals.
  • Make yourself as visible as possible at all times, but especially when visibility is low.
  • Pedestrians shouldn’t be unpredictable. Don’t make sudden moves into the street with traffic nearby.
  • Walk with other people when possible.
  • Anticipate a driver’s actions before they do something.
  • Avoid all distractions when walking.

What Can Drivers Do to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents?

  • Reduce speed at intersections and obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Always use turn signals when you plan to turn, to let pedestrians know.
  • Use hand signals and make eye contact with pedestrians and make sure everyone is aware of each other.
  • Use extra caution in urban areas or other areas with heavy foot traffic.
  • Make sure you stop outside the pedestrian crossing at intersections.
  • Put the cellphone away and avoid distractions of all kinds. Pay close attention, especially in areas with lots of foot traffic.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs.

The City of San Antonio is aware that we have a problem with pedestrian accidents, and they are doing everything they can to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents. However, we all should do our part in this effort. The simple yet effective tips above can go a long way toward reducing the number of pedestrian accidents and make the roads safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

— Click to view our study on pedestrian accidents in Texas: Study: The Most Dangerous Places for Pedestrians in Texas

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