(Courtesy photo)

October is widely anticipated for its Halloween festivities, but it also marks National Pedestrian Safety Month, a time to emphasize the importance of pedestrian and driver awareness.

With upcoming Halloween celebrations and increased foot traffic, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and Caltrans encourage Californians to be extra cautious and vigilant to help reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

In recent years, the streets have become more dangerous for pedestrians, with a concerning rise in the number of people being struck and killed while on foot. In 2021, the United States experienced the highest pedestrian fatality rates since 1981, with 7,388 pedestrian deaths, including 1,108 in California. These incidents also made up 17 percent of all traffic-related deaths and 2 percent of all traffic injuries that year.

Related Stories

Aladdin Receives Multiple Standing Ovations on Opening Night

Bakewell Media ‘Sounds for the Soul’ Music Stage Features Legendary Talent at Taste of Soul

A 2022 report by Smart Growth America highlighted the disproportionate impact of these tragic incidents on people of color, especially Black and Native American pedestrians, who are more likely to die while walking than any other race or ethnic group. Older adults and residents in low-income neighborhoods are also at greater risk due to limited sidewalks and parks, along with an increase of roads lacking controlled access, enabling high-speed local traffic. These factors support the need for a heightened focus on road safety for residents who rely on walking or public transportation.

Road safety is a shared responsibility between drivers and pedestrians. Both must actively cooperate to demonstrate behaviors that safeguard not only themselves, but also those around them. As Halloween approaches, OTS and Caltrans offer the following tips for pedestrians and drivers to stay safe on the roads:

Safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Make yourself visible: wear bright-colored clothes and carry a flashlight if you are walking at night.
  • Avoid dangerous behaviors: always walk on the sidewalk (don’t cross mid-block), stay sober, and make eye contact with drivers – don’t assume the driver can see you.
  • Stay off your phone: talking and especially texting distract you from paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Look before you step: cross streets at marked crosswalks/intersections, obey traffic signals, and watch for turning vehicles.
  • To prevent stumbling or tripping, make sure that costumes don’t drag on the ground.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

Safety tips for drivers:

  • Don’t speed! Obey the speed limit, never use your phone, and always be cautious of your surroundings.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way at any crosswalk or intersection, so slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to pedestrians too.
  • Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move into your path suddenly.

National Pedestrian Safety Month is a reminder to prioritize safe behaviors on the road to help protect our children, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and co-workers. Let’s work together to make our streets safer for all this Halloween and beyond!

To share your thoughts on traffic safety concerns and learn more about ways to stay safe, visit www.gosafelyca.org.