Winter brings increased risk for pedestrians

Dec. 20—Caution is always important when pedestrians are walking on roads, but the danger is heightened during winter months.

The season brings an increase in accidents involving pedestrians as daylight hours are shorter and many motorists can end up driving after drinking during the holidays. Officers say there are steps both those who are on foot and behind the wheel can take to keep everyone safe.

Recently, two pedestrians were hit near Frederick Avenue and 24th Street after attempting to get across the road.

"A very easy and preventable mistake people don't think about is the type of clothing we're wearing," Sgt. James Tonn of the St. Joseph Police Department said. "Pedestrians always need to be wearing something that's bright. Don't assume drivers can see you, that they're paying attention or that they're not impaired. The same goes for drivers — be on the lookout for pedestrians and slow down on the road."

Officers also point out that this time of year brings an increased likeliness of people drinking at gatherings and then heading out to get home.

"Drinking and driving is never a safe decision any time of the year but please especially be mindful around the holidays," Tonn said. "It's the holidays and you've got places you want to be, which is with your family, not in jail or not killed. Walking after drinking is just as dangerous. Your reaction time is slowed and it can lead to a fatal situation."

Another accident last week at 36th and Messanie streets involved a hit and run with a vehicle and pedestrian, fortunately resulting in no injuries. Police say it's important to stay at the scene when a pedestrian accident does occur.

"If you hit a pedestrian, don't drive away," Tonn said. "In any crash, don't drive away. It's pretty obvious but unfortunately, this happens. Always call 911. It's understandable to be scared, but if you run away it'll only make things worse. There's a lot of cameras out there and you'll go to jail for doing this, even if it wasn't your fault in the first place so do the right thing."

In Missouri, 128 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2020 with a similar number of 120 reported in 2021. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, right now 2022 numbers are running ahead of both of those years.

"I can't stress it enough. Everyone needs to make sure they're being more aware," Tonn said. "Pedestrian accidents are not something we should be seeing increase yearly."

Jenna Wilson can be reached at