SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The highest number of pedestrian crashes in Texas last year happened during October, and that’s why TxDOT is launching a “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign.

The campaign aims to remind Texans that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users. The shorter days and longer nights associated with autumn and winter mean it is becoming more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians along roadways.

Misael Rico was only six when doctors told him that he might never walk or talk again. And though Rico started college this year, his life was forever changed when he walked to school with his mother, and a distracted driver crashed into them. Misael Rico was dragged underneath the car. He asks for Texas drivers to watch for people walking.

In Texas, 19% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians, but only 1% of crashes involve pedestrians. Pedestrian traffic fatalities are increasing not just in Texas, though. They’re growing nationwide.

That’s why TxDOT urges drivers to watch for people commuting on foot.

Marc Williams, the Executive Director of TxDOT, said that as we shift to fewer daylight hours, it’s up to drivers and pedestrians to adapt and help keep our roads safe.

“Motorists need to stay alert and look for people walking, and pedestrians can take measures to be seen by drivers who may be inattentive behind the wheel,” Williams said.

TxDOT has released a list of tips to help drivers prevent a pedestrian incident: 1) stop when pedestrians are in crosswalks. 2) when turning, the right of way goes to pedestrians. 3) Drivers should be particularly cautious around bus stops and stopped vehicles. 4) Obey speed limits and other signs on roadways.

TxDOT has also released tips on helping pedestrians stay safe: 1) Only cross the street at intersections and crosswalks. Look both ways before crossing the street, but look left twice. 2) Before crossing a street, make eye contact with drivers. Don’t make assumptions when crossing the street. 3) Follow all traffic and crosswalk signals, and remove electronic devices that take your senses from the roadway. 4) Wear reflective materials at night or use a flashlight. It’s important to stay visible.

But there’s good news for governments wishing to help with pedestrian safety. Other countries have reduced the number of traffic fatalities within their borders, and their work has proven that pedestrian age and movement type are the primary variables that lead to pedestrian fatalities or injuries. Safe walking environments, legal obligations of drivers to understand why policies are in place, and senior zones being marked in a similar fashion as school zones all contribute to a decrease in pedestrian traffic fatalities.

Countries belonging to the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group have already experienced a 50% reduction in fatalities in pedestrian-related auto crashes.