Wiley College launches collaboration with TxDOT on pedestrian safety

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Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 12:43 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV) - Every year pedestrians are killed on Texas roadways. TXDOT has initiated a program they hope will cut down on those fatalities. And their Pedestrian Safety Collaboration Project has caught the attention of Wiley College officials, who are helping fill pedestrian bags that could help those walking along the road.

Representatives from Wiley College in Marshall know the importance of keeping their students safe as they go from building to building. Wiley College Director for Risk Management and Transportation Johnny Johnson says they have a program called:

“Wiley Cares. And we want to make sure that the students and people in the community understand that we care about not only the students, but the community,” Johnson said.

So, Wiley College decided to help fill Pedestrian Bags donated by TXDOT to provide to The Marshall Police Department and Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. It’s part of TXDOT’s Pedestrian Safety Collaboration Project according to Atlanta District TXDOT Traffic Safety Specialist Kristy Whisenhunt.

“We gave those bags to law enforcement for them to be able to go out and talk to pedestrians, and educate them on such things as pedestrian safety, where to walk safe. Make sure they just get where they’re going as safe as they can. And hopefully reduce pedestrian fatalities in our area,” Whisenhunt said.

Across the state of Texas, pedestrians account for 1 in 5 traffic fatalities. 2021 saw a 14 percent increase on pedestrian crashes, according to TxDOT.

In that same year, the Tyler District saw 104 crashes involving pedestrians. 30 people were killed. 37 were seriously injured.

in the Lufkin District, there were 49 crashes involving pedestrians, resulting in 18 fatalities and 17 people seriously injured.

Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth says pedestrians should always cross a busy road at a cross walk and should:

“Look at the driver and make sure that they see you. I think there’s an assumption that you’re seen when many times they may be texting or not paying attention, unfortunately. So, we have the issue of the distracted driver, and also the issue of distracted walker, if you will,” Carruth said.

Carruth says to put the phone away while walking or driving along a busy road. The Pedestrian Bags are more than red bags with some handy items. They can be worn like a backpack, and:

“It has a reflective strip on it as well. So, at night if they have that backpack on, then they are more able to be seen,” Whisenhunt said.

And they all agree that being seen could prevent a fatality.

One hundred forty backpacks were divvied up between the agencies. On-duty officers will hand them out as they see the need arise.

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