California Pedestrian Safety Month is here!

September 10, 2021

Today we're excited to share a guest news story from SafeTREC's Kristen Leckie, Program & Policy Analyst. This post was originally published on September 8, 2021.

As we near two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies are now releasing data on its impact for people walking. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 2020 had the “largest ever annual increase, 21 percent, in the rate at which drivers struck and killed pedestrians.” In California, UC Berkeley SafeTREC’s latest fact sheet on pedestrian safety notes that pedestrian fatalities increased 18.7 percent from 819 in 2015 to 972 in 2019. Even more distressing, another GHSA report found the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) in pedestrian deaths grew even more under COVID-19. These deaths are unacceptable and preventable. The data reinforces the imperative for traffic safety partners to create an equitable transportation system in our communities that is safe for people of all incomes, races and ethnicities, ages and abilities, whether they are walking, biking or taking transit. 

A teal rectangle which shows different types of cartoon vehicles, reading "It's a busy world out there and we're all in it together."

Safety messaging for Pedestrian Safety Month reminding us "It's a busy world out there and we're all in it together." (Photo: Go Safely California/

Every September, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) celebrates Pedestrian Safety Month in California by raising awareness about risks to pedestrians on the road, and the importance of ensuring safe travel for pedestrians. This year, with some COVID-19 restrictions lifted, and people traveling to school, work and essential services, OTS asks those driving or walking to work together to keep our streets safe for all road users. Here are some tips on how you can help keep your community safe:

Safety Tips for People Driving

  • Follow the speed limit and slow down on busy streets and at intersections.

  • Be extra careful approaching marked and unmarked crosswalks. Be prepared to stop for pedestrians. Stop prior to the crosswalk.

  • Avoid blocking the crosswalk while waiting to make a right-hand turn. 

  • Never drive impaired.

  • Have your headlights on and slow down at night when pedestrians are difficult to see.

  • Enjoy the view, ignore your phone, and never text and drive. 

Safety Tips for People Walking 

  • Be alert. 

  • Always use marked crosswalks, preferably at stop signs or signals. 

  • Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with more lanes and higher speed limits. 

  • If you need to briefly walk into the street to maintain social distancing on sidewalks, remember to look both ways for cars.

Pedestrian Safety During COVID-19 Resources

Explore our sampling of resources from traffic safety partners and advocacy organizations throughout the state and beyond!