WisDOT encourages attentive driving to keep pedestrians safe

Pedestrian Safety Month highlights crash risks for non-drivers

Release date: October 10, 2023

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation calls on drivers and pedestrians to share the road and stay aware of your surroundings to protect all travelers this fall.

October is Pedestrian Safety Month, to help drivers recognize that pedestrians are our most vulnerable road users in a crash.

“We’ve lost too many friends, neighbors and loved ones to traffic crashes – many who are just out for a walk. These tragic incidents have a lasting impact on our communities. We need to do everything we can to protect people who face greater injury on the roads. Drivers: use caution. Pedestrians: pay attention to your surroundings. We must all share the road to stay safe,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said.

The number of pedestrians killed in crashes in Wisconsin rose 44% last year, from 50 deaths in 2021 to 72 in 2022. Preliminary data shows improvement in the number of pedestrian-involved crashes this year, but fatalities remain high. So far in 2023, 49 people were killed in 880 pedestrian-involved crashes.

Raising awareness of safe habits

Drivers must be extra conscious of pedestrian safety this time of year. When Daylight Saving Time ends on November 5, drivers will spend more time traveling in the dark, when pedestrians are difficult to see. Always keep a close eye on the road.

There will likely be pedestrians out in the days leading up to Halloween when families are trick-or-treating, often at dusk or at night. Children can be unpredictable, so drivers must be extra vigilant in neighborhoods where kids may be out walking on sidewalks or in the roads.

WisDOT’s awareness campaigns, including Control Your Drive, Buckle Up Phone Down and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, run throughout the year to remind drivers that their most important task behind the wheel is to drive safely.

“Reckless, distracted and impaired driving cause way too many crashes in Wisconsin, and they’re the most preventable incidents if drivers take responsibility for safety on the roads. We hope that by sharing crash data and information about the dangers of these driving behaviors, people will realize it’s not worth the risk,” Bureau of Transportation Safety Director David Pabst said.

Share the road

State laws aim to keep all road users safe by creating a protected space to cross streets. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in a sidewalk, alley, or driveway and when pedestrians have started crossing the street.

WisDOT asks drivers to consider the following safety recommendations:

  • Put the phone down to avoid distractions
  • Obey all posted signs and speed limits; driving a few miles over the speed limit can be the difference between life and death for a pedestrian
  • Do not block crosswalks when stopping at intersections
  • Always drive sober.

Staying safe as a non-driver

Pedestrians are required to yield to drivers when crossing a road where there is no intersection, crosswalk, or walk signal. They should not suddenly move into the path of a closely approaching vehicle that does not have time to yield.

Pedestrians can take additional steps to keep themselves safe, too. Always:

  • Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals
  • Use sidewalks whenever available; if there is no sidewalk, travel facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections; if a crosswalk is not available, find a well-lit area with a clear view of traffic and wait for a gap that allows enough time to cross safely
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots
  • Take extra care at night and at dusk when chances of injury increase; wear reflective clothing or lights to be more visible.

Resources and other information about pedestrian safety are available online and learn more about the Wisconsin State Patrol’s October Law of the Month on safe driving at night.

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov