A number of local law enforcement agencies gathered at Wiley College for a pedestrian safety event on Thursday to learn about and plan for different pedestrian safety issues.

The event was sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, who is currently undergoing a pedestrian safety campaign. TxDOT said they’re seeing an increase in pedestrian deaths.

“We need people to remember to stop for pedestrians, to stop distracted and drunk driving and to pay attention on the roads,” said Heather Deaton, TxDOT public information officer. “Pedestrians also need to not be distracted, stay off their phones and make eye contact with drivers to communicate with them before you cross the street.”

The Marshall Police Department, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, the Wiley College Police Department and the Texas Department of Transportation all met at the Fred T. Long Student Union for the event.

According to TxDOT, one in every five traffic fatalities in Texas are pedestrian deaths. In 2021, there were 5,366 crashes involving pedestrians in Texas resulting in 841 deaths and another 1,470 people seriously injured.

“Part of my job is to look at the data and the number, and what we have seen is a rise in pedestrian deaths in traffic incidents recently,” TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist Kristy Whisenhunt said.

Wiley College’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Nu Iota Chapter, sponsored and organized the event, providing funds for offers from all three law enforcement departments to take home pedestrian bags to give out to community members.

The bags are coded with color reflective material and offer tips and information to the community on how to increase your safety both as a pedestrian and as a driver.

“This partenership has been amazing, because we were trying to figure out how exactly we can get this message out to the community, but what better what to do that then gather all of our law enforcement together at a community hub like Wiley College,” Whisenhunt said.

The Department of Transportation offered these tips for bother drivers and pedestrians to remain safe on the roads:

For drivers:

  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles.
  • Pay attention and put your phone away, so you’re always prepared if pedestrians enter your path.
  • Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions.

For pedestrians:

  • Cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right, then left again before crossing.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing. Don’t assume drivers see you.
  • Obey all traffic and crosswalk signals.
  • Use the sidewalk. If there is not one, walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
  • When walking, put away electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.

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City Reporter

Jessica Harker has been the city reporter with the Marshall News Messenger since 2019.