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Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month: Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in Knoxville

Knoxville police are urging people to follow the rules of the road as they work to prevent even more pedestrian deaths.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pedestrian deaths are rising and according to the Tennessee Traffic Fatalities Historical Report, the state is no exception. 

In 2019, there were 149 pedestrians killed in Tennessee — a 38% increase from 2015. Authorities in Knoxville said so far in 2021, seven pedestrians have been killed. The Knoxville Police Department wants people to be alert and aware to prevent more deaths to the statistic.

Throughout October, KPD is working to make the roads safer for motorists and pedestrians alike. A big part of this push though is education: informing both drivers and pedestrians of the law.

"The laws aren't there to be punitive. They're there for people's safety," said Scott Erland, a spokesperson with the Knoxville Police Department.

Tennessee drivers are required to yield to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. If a driver is letting a pedestrian cross, other motorists cannot pass them. Drivers are also required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians at all times. 

"It is Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month, so it's really important for us to try to get more of those educational pieces out there and just to remind folks, both motorists and pedestrians, that we all have this responsibility to stay safe and keep each other safe around the roadways," Erland said. 

Police said these kinds of crashes are most prevalent in densely populated areas like Nashville, and some have been hit in Knoxville too.

Police said the consequences are far more than just a traffic ticket – breaking laws on the road can cost jail time and lives. To learn more about Tennessee's traffic laws, click here.