Pedestrian fatalities is a growing issue in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation reported Wednesday a rise in pedestrian deaths in Missouri. It said nearly 10 percent of all traffic deaths are pedestrians. The state has seen 83 pedestrian deaths in 2016 to date.

MoDOT's Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield said one of the reasons for this rise is the increase of both drivers and pedestrians on the street. Because there are more people out, the risk is higher. The study notes everyone is a pedestrian at some point because as soon as you leave your car, you become a pedestrian.

Another cause Whitfield mentioned was distracted driving and walking. He said pedestrians should be making eye contact with drivers instead, so they know if a driver sees them before walking.

Whitfield also said 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen in urban areas, with St. Louis leading the state.

"Whether we are walking the streets of Jefferson City, Columbia, or any city in the state, we do everything within our ability to avoid stepping out in front of a car or having an interaction with a car and pedestrian," Whitfield said.

MoDOT offered some tips for drivers to avoid hitting someone crossing the street.

  • Yield to 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. There may be people crossing you can't see.

And also a few for pedestrians:

  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Keep alert at all times. Don't be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.