In the first six months of 2015, Alaska had only 3 pedestrian fatalities, as stated in the Governors Highway Safety Association’s Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State report. During the same six months in 2016, pedestrian deaths were up 100 percent for a total of 6 deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts for 2015 shows that Alaska had a total of 12 pedestrian fatalities for the year out of the 5,376 pedestrian fatalities in the United States. Alaska’s pedestrian deaths equal 18.5 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities.
The rights and duties of pedestrians are denoted in Title 13, Article 4 of the Alaska Administrative Code (13 AAC). Pedestrian control signals indicate “walk” or “don’t walk” and if a person is already crossing a roadway when the signal reads “don’t walk,” he or she should proceed to the other side of the road or an island in the middle of the road. (see 13 AAC 02.015). Pedestrians are not allowed to remain on a bridge or cross one once a signal has been given and they may not be on the traffic island that is part of a roundabout (see 13 AAC 02.150). A person may not leave the curb or another place of safety to walk so closely into the path of a vehicle that he or she creates a hazard. Whenever possible, a pedestrian should walk on the right side of the crosswalk (see 13 AAC 02.155). Vehicles have the right-of-way when a person is crossing a road outside of a marked crosswalk. Where traffic signals are operating, a pedestrian in a residential or business area must cross in a marked crosswalk. A pedestrian may only cross diagonally (“jaywalking”) if authorized by a traffic signal (see 13 AAC 02.160). Sidewalks must be used if provided, if one is not available, a person may walk on the shoulder or outside edge of a highway. If walking on a two-way road, the pedestrian must remain on the left side (see 13 AAC 02.175). Just like vehicles, people walking must always yield to emergency vehicles. (see 13 AAC 02.195).
Alaska has a program to improve child pedestrian safety entitled “Bike-n-Walk Safely Alaska!” The program includes a poster with advice for walking safely reminding people not to walk and text, to use headphones with phones, to pay attention when crossing a street, to stay inside crosswalks and others. There is also a statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in Alaska that includes safety priorities for pedestrians in the state. The plan is currently in development with the final version expected to be released sometime in 2018. The state was recently asking for public comments and recommendations for the plan.