The Missouri Transportation Department calls pedestrian fatalities a growing problem in the state.

It contends people are using their feet more and more as a mode of transportation due to concerns over money, health and the environment.

The agency reports 83 pedestrian deaths so far this year, which MoDOT’s Kelly Jackson says, will only rise over the rest of December.  “There were 98 at this time last year” said Kelly.  “Although we’re a few behind, as the rate is going, we will be well above the 104 that we finished with last year.”

The agency says lifestyle choices and economic conditions are leading more people to travel by foot.  Some citizens don’t have access to a vehicle, aren’t physically capable of driving, or delay or decide not to get a license.

Jackson says the increasing use of transit raises the risk of pedestrian involved accidents.  “Anyone using the transit system first begins their commute with a walk to the bus stop” said Jackson.  “When they get back, they’ll walk from the bus stop.  So it’s important to remember that, even though they are using the transit system, they’re still beginning and ending their commute with a walk.”

Failure to yield is the leading contributor to driver caused fatalities, while walking on the roadway is the top pedestrian action leading to death.  Jackson notes there’s significant danger when driver’s inadvertently become pedestrians.  “After an accident or after your vehicle is disabled, if you pull over on the side of the road, we have had some fatalities where people were exiting their vehicles on the driver’s side and stepped out into traffic.”

MoDOT says 10 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities are from pedestrians being struck.  Among those attributed to pedestrian actions, 13 were the result of people standing, sitting or lying in the road.  12 were caused by people walking or running in traffic.  With driver caused incidents, use of mobile devices has increasingly become a contributing factor with distracted driving.

MoDOT provided Missourinet with tips for avoiding vehicle-pedestrian collisions from The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.  They’re listed below.

  • Always stay inside a disabled vehicle if it is safe to do so, so the vehicle can protect you.  The vehicle is much more visible to oncoming traffic than a pedestrian standing in the roadway.
  • Never walk distracted by texting, talking or using headphones.
  • Make yourself visible to motorists by wearing light colored clothing, and always make eye contact with drivers when possible.
  • Always use designated crosswalks and obey crosswalk signals when available.