According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were an estimated 76,000 pedestrians injured by vehicles nationwide in 2019; a one percent increase from the year before. In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes across the country.

Iowa City is not immune to vehicle crashes involving pedestrians. Since the beginning of 2016, 119 crashes involving pedestrians have been reported to the Iowa City Police Department. 

Fortunately, crashes involving pedestrians in Iowa City have been declining over the past 10 years. A majority of pedestrian collisions in Iowa City happen in the Downtown and University of Iowa campus area. Both locally and nationally, most pedestrian collisions happen after dark and alcohol is frequently a factor. 

The City has taken several steps to make pedestrian travel safer. All crosswalk signposts are marked with high visibility reflective tape to make them stand out to motorists. In many high pedestrian areas, crossing signals allow those traveling on foot to get a head start on crossing before vehicles are given the green signal. Downtown crossing signals provide audible cues for those with visual impairment.

For National Pedestrian Safety Month, the NHTSA and Iowa City police offer these important safety reminders.

For Pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available. 
  • If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic. Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, music players, and other devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not see you). Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
  • Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your judgment and coordination.

For Drivers:

  • Look for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians may not be walking where they should be or may be hard to see— especially in poorly lit conditions, including dusk/dawn/night and poor weather.
  • Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk or where pedestrian crosswalk signs are posted.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. They may be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Slow down and look for pedestrians. Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 
  • Follow the speed limit; slow down around pedestrians. 
  • Stay focused and slow down where children may be present, like school zones and neighborhoods.

Date of publication

Friday, October 15, 2021