EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Traffic deaths set a record high in the month of September for El Paso.
7,200 people were killed nationwide last year walking on the streets. In Texas, 731 people died as a result of nearly 5,000 crashes that happened in 2020. Another 1,211 were seriously injured, according to TxDot, and pedestrian fatalities from traffic crashes has increased 5% from 2016 to 2020.
Jennifer Wright, who is the Public Affairs officer for TxDOT in the El Paso District, told KTSM that In one month alone 13 people were killed by crashes in El Paso. That number, she said, is up from an average of 10 deaths each month. Wright said most of these crashes are preventable.
“We don’t call them accidents because they can be prevented. We call them crashes and the major causes of crashes are failure to control speed, unsafe lane changes and distracted driving,” she said, “The bad news in in September we looked at 13 on average per day and we know that here in El Paso we’ve had a lot of fatalities that have happened recently.”
Over the last three years, in the El Paso District, 181 pedestrians have either been killed or seriously injured, 87 of those happening on Doniphan Drive alone.
Over the last five years in the El Paso district 159 of the 331 crashes involving pedestrians can be attributed to either drivers failing to yield the right of way, or pedestrians failing to yield the right of way.
In fact 20% of all fatalities on Texas Highways are from pedestrian crashes.
Wright said that there are things pedestrians and drivers can do to make sure they don’t become a victim
“You should always cross in crosswalks, obey traffic signals, make eye contact with the driver, make sure that they see you. Also be aware that there are obstacles that prevent cars from seeing you. Drivers can’t always see you when you’re walking out from behind a bush or from in between cars,” she said “Another thing is don’t walk distracted, put away your phone. If you’re going to be out walking don’t wear dark colors at night, wear something bright, wear something reflective.”
Wright said that drivers also need to stay alert. They need to slow down when approaching intersections, watch for pedestrians, always look both ways and never drive distracted or intoxicated.
According to wright, TXDot has been awarded $53 million to make safety improvements around El Paso and they are already busy at work with safety projects across the district like installing raised medians, which will significantly cut down on crashes in center of the road turning lanes. They are also working to make streets safer by installing pedestrian traffic lights that will stop traffic in both directions so people can cross safely on busy streets.
FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story noted that 13 pedestrians were killed in crashes in September; according to TxDOT that number is the total number of deaths for the month. The story has been corrected to reflect the new information.