(JUNEAU, Alaska) — Governor Mike Dunleavy has joined states across the nation in declaring October as Pedestrian Safety Month in Alaska. “I encourage all Alaskans to renew their commitment to safe driving practices, to watch for pedestrians and cyclists, and to be aware and alert when driving, walking or biking,” said Governor Dunleavy.
As winter approaches, and daylight is fading fast, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) is advocating for infrastructure that helps improve safety for active transportation modes such as pedestrians and cyclists. “Alaskans use a variety of ways to get around. We want everyone to arrive safely at their destinations,” said DOT&PF Commissioner Ryan Anderson. “The historic funding levels available through our Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) can enable us to more successfully partner with communities on active transportation projects.”
Pedestrians in Alaska are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to crashes. In Alaska, pedestrians are a small percent of the persons involved in crashes but are overrepresented in Alaska’s roadway fatalities. Preliminary data show that 16 pedestrians were killed in Alaska last year and we’ve already had seven fatal pedestrian crashes in 2022.
Nationally, fatal pedestrian crashes are on the rise. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association, a national nonprofit representing state and territorial highway safety offices, is reporting that 7,485 pedestrians were killed in 2021, compared to 6,711 in 2020 (2021 data is still considered preliminary). This is an increase of over 11%, and the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 40 years.
Crashes with pedestrians are preventable. Most of these fatal crashes occur at night, and many occur outside of intersections. Alaska DOT&PF reminds motorists to be especially vigilant when driving in dark and low-light conditions, by increasing awareness, eliminating distractions, moderating speeds, and driving sober. Pedestrians can be present anywhere, even outside of sidewalks, shoulders and crosswalks. It’s highly recommended for pedestrians to wear reflective or high-visible clothing during low-light hours, and use established crossings whenever possible.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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