AUSTIN, Texas (KTSM) – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is launching its “Be safe. Drive Smart” campaign, starting March 31 to urge Texans to follow the traffic laws of safe driving, walking and biking.

At the center of the campaign is Alexei Bauereis, a talented 14-year-old boy ballet prodigy who was victim of a deadly pedestrian traffic crash on June 7, 2016.

The crash happened when Alexei was walking a friend home from his house in Austin. He was walking through a crosswalk at the intersection when an oncoming driver failed to yield and failed to slow down at a yellow flashing traffic signal, striking and killing the boy.

Anna Baueries, mother of pedestrian victim Alexei Baueries. Courtesy by TxDOT.

Alexei is just one example of the many deadly crashes happening in Texas every year. In 2021, 935 people died in pedestrian and bicyclist-related traffic crashes in the state, accounting for one out of every five of the 4,496 fatalities on state roadways. In the five-year period from 2017 to 2021, pedestrian fatalities resulting from traffic crashes increased 34% and bicyclist fatalities increased 58%.

“We have a shared responsibility to every member of our community – to every family and every individual – to help reverse these trends and reduce traffic fatalities in Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “We’re asking all Texans to watch out for one another, whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot, or on a bike. Obeying traffic safety laws is a critical first step.”

Texas law enforcement officials are reminding people that if you’re driving:

  • Stop and yield for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users in crosswalks.
  • When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Pass bikes at a safe distance and give bicyclists room to ride.

If you’re walking:

  • Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals, including at crosswalks.
  • Use sidewalks. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.

And finally, if you’re riding a bike:

  • Always stop at red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • At night, make sure your bike has a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.