ambulanceThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding pedestrians of all ages to walk with care – using crosswalks where possible – and urging drivers to be on the lookout for pedestrians at all times.

Those warnings come on the heels of a  new NHTSA report showing that pedestrian fatalities across the nation rose by 4 percent in 2010.

"Roadway safety is a two-way street that requires effort on the part of motorists and pedestrians alike," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Whether you choose to travel by foot or car, it's important to share the roads and stay alert."

Most pedestrian fatalities at night, in clear weather

Some 4,280 pedestrians died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010 – up from the 4,109 pedestrian deaths recorded in 2009. Pedestrian deaths in 2010 accounted for 13 percent of all the traffic fatalities and 3 percent of injuries reported during the year. The majority of pedestrian deaths in 2010 (73 percent) occurred in urban environments, with nearly 80 percent of these deaths taking place at non-intersections and almost 90 percent in clear weather. Fully 68 percent of pedestrian deaths happened at night.

"Most people are pedestrians at some point in their day – that's why we're reminding the public to take precautions and use crosswalks or intersections whenever possible and wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross the street," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Drivers should pay attention behind the wheel, especially in hard-to-see conditions and at night."

Safety for pedestrians

To prevent pedestrian deaths and injuries, NHTSA offers the following safety recommendations:

For Pedestrians:

  • Keep alert at all times; don't be distracted by electronic devices, including radios, smart phones and other devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road environment.
  • Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible.
  • Wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.

For Drivers:

  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times.
  • Be especially vigilant for pedestrians in hard-to-see conditions, such as night time or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop, too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They are stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.

View the latest pedestrian fatality report from NHTSA, including a state-by-state breakdown of fatalities.

View comprehensive information on pedestrian safety, including tips for parents on protection young pedestrians.