JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Two years ago, a pedestrian was killed every 81 minutes in a traffic crash on average in the United States.

Mississippi had the third-highest fatality rate per 100,000 population, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Last year, Mississippi ranked 6th in the country for improvement. That’s a lot of walkers, runners and cyclists being killed.

Jackson police see roadway crashes every day. Unfortunately, pedestrians being hit by vehicles isn’t uncommon in the city.

“It’s a tragic thing when you do strike a pedestrian because no one wants that to happen,” said Jordan Garard, a traffic homicide investigator with the Jackson Police Department (JPD).

Garard said drivers need to be mindful that pedestrians can also be on the streets and roadways.

“You always have to stay alert. Especially coming into these blind corners, not only do you have to watch for traffic, somebody might be passing or overtaking, but you do have to watch for pedestrians, as well,” he said.

Because of an increasing number of traffic crashes involving a pedestrian, leaders with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) are reminding drivers to slow down and be on the lookout for those walking, crossing streets, cycling and jogging.

“We are seeing pedestrians attempting to cross the interstate. We are seeing in our crash data pedestrians walking the edge of a rural roadway in the late night or early morning hours. That’s why we want to encourage drivers to not just look for them in the downtown areas, in a crosswalk, but really be on the lookout for them everywhere. Especially winding roads and things like that where we don’t have any sidewalks. A lot of these winding roads here in Jackson, we don’t even have shoulders. If you come around the curve and there’s a person there, they’re probably in the lane of travel that you’re in, and you just don’t have the time to avoid them,” said Mark Thomas with MDOT’s Highway Safety Division.

Speed plays a major role in surviving being hit by a vehicle.

“Speed plays a critical factor when a crash occurs with a pedestrian. The statistics we put out show that at 45 miles per hour or greater, a pedestrian has less than a 10% chance of living through that event,” Thomas continued.

“It’s safe to say that the greater the speed, the more likely you are to not survive,” said Garard.

If you walk, cycle, run or jog, you are considered a pedestrian. Consider the following tips before heading out on the road:

  • Be visible.
  • Wear bright clothing (reflective vests at night).
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Use a sidewalk or path, if available.
  • Never try to cross an interstate.
  • Walk, cycle and run in the direction of traffic.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as vehicles approach.
  • Never assume a driver sees you.