Texas Road Safety Messaging Blames Pedestrians, Ignores Structural Flaws

Critics of the state’s ‘Be Safe. Drive Smart.’ campaign say the messaging puts the onus on pedestrians and cyclists while failing to address the lack of robust pedestrian and bike infrastructure in many of its cities.

1 minute read

December 4, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Highway sign with "Stop the strak of TX traffic fatalities" against blue sky

Rosemarie Mosteller / Texas road safety sign

Writing in Next City, Benton Graham describes the criticism faced by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for its messaging approach to road safety, which in most cases places the blame for crashes squarely on pedestrians (the top reason for pedestrian deaths, according to the department’s website, is “Pedestrians failing to yield the right-of-way to vehicles”) and cyclists.

Meanwhile, “While the state agency lists safety as its number one priority, it only dedicated around 4% of its funds to safety initiatives in its 10-year plan,” Graham notes. Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of Farm & City and an advocate for safer roads, says “TxDOT investing in safe, multimodal streets is the most important thing that it can do to make roads less dangerous.”

Advocates like Blazek Crossley see cause for optimism in recent state and local initiatives, however. “In addition to infrastructure changes, Blazek Crossley said there is opportunity for safety improvements through policy changes.” FOr example, “The Lisa Torrey Smith Act passed during the 2021 Texas Legislative Session requires drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.” TxDOT also recently added a pedestrian design section to its roadway design manual, and cities like Houston are making serious investments in bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Friday, December 2, 2022 in Next City

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Close-up of person with vision impairment wearing jeans and white sneakers crossing yellow and white striped crosswalk with cane.

Being a Non-Driver in a Car-Dependent World

A third or more of Americans cannot drive due to their age, ability, or other factors. How can their travel needs inform our transportation systems?

26 minutes ago - Streetsblog USA

Aerial view of a line of freight trucks driving on a country highway.

How Cities Can Lead the Way in Reducing Transportation Emissions

Decisions made at the local level can have a significant impact on emissions in the transportation sector.

1 hour ago - Governing

Glass dome at front of modern San Jose City Hall building in San Jose, California.

San Jose Tests AI Translation Tool to Improve Access to Public Meetings

More than half of the city’s population speaks a language other than English at home, making translation services a key pillar of accessibility.

May 22 - GovTech

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.