SALINAS, Calif. (KION) -- As the seasons change and days get darker sooner, experts are reminding people to be safe when walking in or around buy roadways.
"Pedestrian deaths have gone up, especially in urban cities," says Michelle Anderson with The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc.
Even as fewer people traveled on the roads during the height of the pandemic, the traffic death toll rose again by eight percent to 42,060, the highest number in 13 years.
Pedestrians represent more than 17 percent of that total, which is one of the reasons the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared October as National Pedestrian Safety Month.
"In the state of California, over a thousand people were killed in 2019 as a result of walking on the roads," says Anderson.
Statistics from the Governors Highway Safety Association show the number of pedestrian fatalities has jumped by almost three percent in 2019 and another 4.8 percent in 2020, to a grim total of 6,412.
In addition -- more than 800 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
California represents more than 15 percent of the national pedestrian death toll
Meanwhile, Salinas Police are also investigating three incidents involving pedestrians getting hit.
a 60-year-old woman was hit while a truck was making a left turn back on September 30th.
The next day, October 1st, 2021, a 13-year-old girl was hit while crossing the street.
Later the same day, a car hit a biker then fled the scene.
All three people ended up with major injuries.
The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. offers some basic tips.
- Stay alert at all times
- Wear bright colors at night
- Put away cell phones while walking, riding your bike, or driving
- Don't wear head headphones and be aware of your surroundings.
"We also tend to walk in the middle of the block or we jay walk and those are recipes for disaster," says Anderson.
Sidewalks and crosswalks are recommended.
All month long, the Drive Safe California Contest invites California teens to submit ideas for a 30-second PSA about pedestrian safety.
The winner gets $2,000 and also works with an Emmy-winning director to make their idea into a finished spot that will air on more than 170 TV stations nationwide. Click here for more information.