JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With an increasing number of traffic crashes involving a pedestrian, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is reminding drivers to slow down and watch out for pedestrians.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This is a 3.9% increase from 2019.

Mississippi had the third highest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population.

“Pedestrian related crashes are on the rise not only in Mississippi, but across the country. It’s crucial for drivers to stay vigilant when behind the wheel because pedestrians are vulnerable,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “And with Halloween and daylight savings quickly approaching, we want to remind drivers to slow down and watch out for pedestrians.”

Below are some tips for drivers:

  • Watch for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see especially when visibility is lower, including dusk, dawn, night and poor weather.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
  • Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit and slow down around pedestrians.
  • Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, like school zones and neighborhoods.

Below are tips for pedestrians:

  • Never attempt to cross an interstate.
  • Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
  • If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
  • Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, audio players or other devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
  • Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.