TxDOT kicks off “Drive Friendly. Drive Safe.” campaign

(Photo: Don Baird / Flickr)(Photo: Don Baird / Flickr)

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) launched its “Drive Friendly. Drive Safe.” campaign on Monday, calling on drivers to work toward reduced crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles.

The campaign’s launch coincides with many students returning to school, which increases vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson noted that driving friendly and driving safe in pedestrian- and bicyclist-heavy areas helps save lives.

“Being responsible behind the wheel is especially important in and around school zones, and other areas where vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists interact with vehicles,” Wilson said.

The campaign also follows a year of rising pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in the state. TxDOT said Texas saw an increase of 13.2 percent in pedestrian fatalities in 2012 compared to 2011, and bicyclist fatalities in the state climbed 19.1 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year.

TxDOT added that more than 5,000 pedestrians were struck by vehicles in Texas in 2012, resulting in 2,962 serious injuries and 481 fatalities. And vehicles struck more than 2,000 bicyclists on Texas roads in the same year, resulting in 1,450 serious injuries and 56 fatalities.

TxDOT also pointed out national figures, noting that about one pedestrian is killed in a vehicle crash every 119 minutes, and one is injured every eight minutes. According to TxDOT, 677 bicyclists were killed in nationwide vehicle crashes in 2011, and 48,000 were injured in the same year.

TxDOT has offered several tips to help drivers drive friendly and safe:

  • Pay attention – put your phone down.

  • Obey posted speed limits.

  • Be on the lookout for bicyclists on the highway and at intersections.

  • When passing a bicyclist, move to another lane, if possible, and offer plenty of room.

  • Watch for bicyclists who may need to maneuver around potholes and debris.

  • Be on the lookout for — and yield to — pedestrians, especially when approaching crosswalks, intersections and buses.

  • Watch for children who may dart across the street to catch a school bus.

  • Regardless of which direction you’re traveling, always stop for school buses with flashing red lights.