How to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian safety is an ongoing concern across the nation. Tragically, 7,388 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2021, the most recent year for which stats are available, according to the NHTSA* That’s the highest number since 1981 (when 7,837 pedestrians were killed), and a 12.5% increase from 2020. A further 60,577 people were injured.

Why are our roads so dangerous for pedestrians? More importantly, what can we do about it?

We can all help make our streets safer for ourselves and our families, both as pedestrians and drivers. Cities and municipalities can make a difference, too. Here’s how to improve pedestrian safety.

*Sources for article: NHTSA 2021 Traffic Safety Facts (PDF), NHTSA National Pedestrian Safety Month 2023 Resource Guide (PDF).

What Pedestrians Can Do to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Some things pedestrians can do to be safer on the road include:

        Walk on a sidewalk if available

        Walk on the shoulder facing traffic if no sidewalk is available

        Cross at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians, whenever possible

        Stay alert; don’t wear earbuds and keep your focus on your surroundings

        Be extra careful when impaired with drugs or alcohol; in approximately 30% of fatal pedestrian crashes, pedestrians had a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or higher

        Be more visible: wear bright clothing during the day, and during evening and nighttime hours, wear reflective materials or carry a flashlight

This last point is especially important. Over 50% of pedestrian fatalities occur in just six hours of the day, from 6 p.m. to 11:59 p.m., when light is low and visibility is bad, according to NHTSA data. In many cases, drivers simply don’t see pedestrians and therefore can’t avoid them. If you regularly walk or run at night where traffic is, make sure you’re visible to cars by wearing reflective or flashing items.

What Drivers Can Do to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Some things drivers can do to be safer on the road include:

        Look for pedestrians everywhere; only 16% of pedestrian fatalities in 2021 occurred at intersections, while 84% occurred elsewhere, including places drivers might not expect pedestrians to be

        Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks as required by law

        Do not pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, because you may not see pedestrians crossing

        Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol

        Do not text, look at your phone, or otherwise drive distracted

        Do not speed, and slow down where children may be present

As a driver, obeying the speed limit and slowing down where pedestrians – especially children and the elderly are present – is critical. For every increase of 10 miles in speed, the risk of death to the pedestrian is approximately double. Pedestrians have a 50% or higher chance of dying when struck at speeds of 40 mph or above, according to the NHTSA.

What the Government Can Do to Improve Pedestrian Safety

The government also has an important role in improving pedestrian safety from at the federal, state, and local level. As a citizen, you can get involved in your local government and advocate for safer roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach aims to reduce traffic deaths (of all kinds, not just pedestrian) through Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, and Post-Crash Care. Safer Roads have features common in pedestrian safety zones (which you can read more about on our blog) that improve pedestrian safety such as:

        Crosswalk visibility enhancements

        Medians and pedestrian refuge islands

        Bicycle lanes

        Rumble strips

The U.S. DOT also has a Safe Routes to School program that communities and schools can implement together to make the trip to and from school safer for children.

Speak with Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at The Carolina Law Group

Were you injured as a pedestrian in a traffic accident, or did you lose a loved one in a pedestrian accident? For legal advice and advocacy, call the personal injury attorneys at The Carolina Law Group. We help people in South Carolina get the compensation they need after being injured so they can get back to life before the accident. We also handle wrongful death claims and help surviving family members get the compensation they need to cover funeral expenses, lost wages, and more. Call us today at one of the numbers below to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.312.4444) & West Columbia (principal office; call 803.881.1110).

Call us at one of our four offices or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys. Our business hours are Monday – Thursday 8:30am – 5:30pm & Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm. Weekend and evening hours by appointment only. Our Greenville, SC law firm offers Spanish, Hindi, and Gujarati language translation services for your convenience.


Mr. Patel worked for the Greenville County Public Defender’s Office in 2005 after graduating from law school. While there, Mr. Patel handled thousands of cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to high-profile murders. In March 2011, Mr. Patel and Mr. Desai formed The Carolina Law Group. Mr. Patel practices in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury. In 2011, Mr. Patel was elected as the President of the Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GACDL).

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