CDOT calls for heightened awareness of pedestrians as days grow shorter and darker

Traffic Safety Pulse News

This year, pedestrian fatalities are on track to reach an all-time high for the state. This Pedestrian Safety Month, CDOT is urging all roadway users to drive, walk and ride with care.

October through December historically have the most pedestrian fatalities in Colorado, largely due to the shorter days and longer nights. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable in the dark since it’s hard for motorists to see them. For example, more than 66% of fatal pedestrian crashes occurred at night in the first six months of 2023. Therefore, as we head into darker months, CDOT urges drivers and pedestrians alike to use caution.

Pedestrian fatalities in Colorado by month from 2019 to 2022. In January, 29, February 18, March 27, April 28, May 24, June 29, July 27, August 40, September 34, October 40, November 42 and December 47.

As of September 30, Colorado had 87 pedestrian fatalities on its roadways, up from 78 at this time last year. Men make up a staggering 75% of all pedestrian fatalities this year.

One of the primary ways CDOT addresses vulnerable roadway user safety is through system enhancements for bicyclists and pedestrians. CDOT considers context sensitive solutions in designs that further safety infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. Using safety and specific location data, CDOT is able to design safe crossings and facilities at hotspots and challenging intersections. In addition, the Revitalizing Main Streets program enhances local economic vitality in towns and cities across Colorado through funding infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking easy, yielding long-term benefits that bolster community connections.

In addition to infrastructure projects across the state, CDOT’s Highway Safety Office addresses pedestrian safety with grants for law enforcement and local awareness efforts.

“We are committed to enhancing pedestrian safety across our state, and at CDOT, we believe in a comprehensive approach,” said CDOT's Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Our strategy combines collaborative efforts on education and awareness as well as safer roadway design to minimize danger to pedestrians. We are dedicated to making Colorado's streets and sidewalks more secure for everyone who uses them.”

Of the state’s 115 pedestrian fatalities in 2022, 62% resulted from pedestrian error, justifying the need for responsible roadway user behavior and ongoing infrastructure updates statewide. In observance of National Pedestrian Safety Month, CDOT is sharing the following tips:

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Walk on sidewalks wherever they are available.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
  • Stay off your phone when crossing the street.
  • Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
  • At night, wear light colors and walk where streetlights will illuminate you.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.

“Put the phone down — sending or reading a short text takes your eyes off the road for almost five seconds,” said CDOT Bike and Pedestrian Program Manager Annelies van Vonno. “At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.”

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Look out for pedestrians and bicyclists everywhere, at all times, and especially in areas near schools, parks, shopping areas and transit stops.
  • Follow the speed limit. Speeding motorists endanger everyone on the road but put pedestrians at the greatest risk for death or serious injury.
  • Stop before a crosswalk, not in it.
  • Never drive impaired.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.
  • At night, reduce your speed and make sure your headlights are on.