HARLINGEN — There are accidents that can be avoided, TxDOT Public Information Officer Octavio Saenz says.
In an effort to reduce pedestrian and auto accidents, the Texas Department of Transportation has begun a safety campaign to remind drivers and pedestrians to slow down, be alert and obey traffic laws.
“Every accident is unique, but the one thing we can say is there is a responsibility from drivers and the pedestrians themselves to be safe on the roadway,” Saenz said.
“There was a slight decrease in the number of pedestrians killed by these accidents, but we still need to raise awareness on the dangers that pedestrians may have through safety tips and education material,” he said.
TxDOT has provided school districts with public service announcements that provide tips and guidelines to reduce the accidents.
“People need to understand that whenever possible to go on the crosswalks — where drivers expect pedestrians. That is where they need to be,” he said.
“Drivers and pedestrians need to make a connection to understand they are occupying the same space and pedestrians need to make themselves visible, too,” Saenz said.
Records reported by the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization show that fatal pedestrian crashes in Harlingen from 2015 through this year have numbered at least 10.
According to their records, the most dangerous intersections are 7th Street and N. 77 Sunshine Strip; Tyler Avenue and Harrison Avenue at F Street; and Tyler Avenue and Harrison Avenue at 77 Sunshine Strip.
The Harlingen Police Department also encourages both pedestrians and drivers to keep their guard up and stay focused to reduce the number of accidents.
Police Sgt. Larry Moore said he agrees that following the rules on both sides, as well as bicyclists, is important to keep safety at a high.
“For pedestrians I would suggest maintaining on the bike lanes whenever possible and preferably ride in the daytime. If not, wear a reflective vest if they are going to be out at night,” Moore said.
“You always need to be aware of the traffic. Vehicles don’t always have the chance to see you if they are riding fast enough. Now for drivers what I will stress most is to put the phone down and keep their eyes on the road. The message can wait, focusing on the road is the most important,” he said.
If you’re driving
• Reduce your speed when approaching crosswalks and stop for pedestrians.
• Yield the right of way to pedestrians when turning.
• Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
• Stay alert and put your phone away — pedestrians may enter your path suddenly.
• Obey the speed limit and drive to conditions.
If you’re walking
• Use sidewalks whenever they’re available. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
• Always cross at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look left, then right, then left again before proceeding.
• Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
• Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
• Don’t be distracted by devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
• As a passenger, get in or out of a vehicle on the curb side of the street.