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Minnesota Pedestrian Fatalities Highest in Five Years Because of Speeding Drivers

March 2022

There has been a surge of speeding in Minnesota, resulting in the highest rate of fatalities in five years. In 2021, there were 57 pedestrians killed in the state. That was a significant difference from the previous average, which was 42 per year during the past 13 years. Traffic accident deaths were also the highest they had been since 2007 last year, totaling 500. Of all the fatal traffic accidents in 2021, speed was a contributing factor in 33% of accidents. This was an increase from 26% in 2020.

A spokesperson from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said that the pandemic seemed to result in an increase in bad driving behavior and the department noticed a large increase in high-speed violations. Other experts believe that the speeding issues came from people seeing emptier roads when the 2020 lockdowns first started, and they decided to travel at faster speeds. There was an overall decrease in traffic on U.S. roadways during the pandemic, but the Governors Highway Safety Association said that there were still 6,721 pedestrians killed across the United States in 2020. That was an increase from 2019.

Plans To Address the Speeding Problems

St. Paul is one example of a city with a sharp increase in speeding problems. In 2020, there were only 887 speeding citations. That number grew to 2,882 in 2021. Eight pedestrians died in St. Paul in 2021. The police in St. Paul developed a campaign called “Stop for Me” to increase awareness of pedestrian safety issues. The campaign receives funding from the Department of Public Safety. Last year, it hosted 30 different events. Part of the campaign involves officers going to various intersections and trying to cross. When drivers do not yield for them, the drivers are pulled over and provided with literature about pedestrian safety. They may also be cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian.

Communities and officials throughout the state have also been developing more holistic approaches in response to increased injuries and fatalities. Their plans include emergency medical and trauma services, education for the public, stricter enforcement of traffic laws and engineering innovations to improve roadway safety. Researchers are analyzing crosswalks and streets to see if bollards or other additions could improve safety for pedestrians. After collecting data from various intersections, they learned that drivers were less likely to stop for pedestrians in intersections that did not have traffic lights. However, they also found that adding signs reminding drivers that they had a lawful duty to stop for pedestrians seemed to help.

Some Minnesota cities are also considering reducing the amount of time pedestrians need to be in the crosswalk and trying to get drivers to slow down. They are thinking about other potential improvements as well, such as curb bump-outs for increased pedestrian visibility and posting reduced speeds in areas with more foot traffic.

In July of 2021, a statewide campaign in Minnesota among law enforcement resulted in 55 participating agencies catching drivers exceeding 100 mph. Compared with 2020, this was a significant increase from only 40 agencies reporting catching drivers exceeding 100 mph. As one official said, speed can be the literal difference between living and dying in a pedestrian traffic accident. Five to 10 mph can make a major difference in the severity of injuries from the impact.

Common Factors in Crashes

The Office of Traffic Safety provided information about pedestrian deaths between 2016 and 2020. Their findings showed the following:

  • Careless driving was the leading cause of drivers not stopping for pedestrians.
  • For pedestrians, the most common mistake was entering an intersection unexpectedly.
  • In collisions, 38% of pedestrians had been drinking, and 35% of drivers had been drinking before the accident.
  • About 50% of accidents were due to driver error, and about 50% of accidents were due to pedestrian error.

Safety Tips for Minnesota Drivers and Pedestrians

In many cases, pedestrians’ injuries are severe or permanent after they are hit by cars. Drivers can face severe penalties when they are to blame. The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety hopes that both drivers and pedestrians will be conscientious to keep safety in mind and provided tips for both pedestrians and drivers.

These are the top tips for drivers:

  • Always be mindful of surroundings while driving.
  • Whether an intersection is marked or unmarked, always let pedestrians cross.
  • Maintain safe speeds at all times.
  • Watch for pedestrians at every intersection, and be mindful of pedestrians attempting to cross outside of intersections.

These are the top tips for pedestrians:

  • Only cross where there is a marked crosswalk, a traffic signal or a corner.
  • Do not cross in the middle of a street.
  • Never walk along an interstate.
  • Always stay alert, and look twice before attempting to cross a street.
  • To be sure that drivers are aware, make eye contact with them before entering an intersection.

What To Do After an Accident

If you were in a pedestrian accident, the attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben are here to help. Our firm is located in Minneapolis, MN. However, we also serve Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. Our award-winning, board-certified attorneys handle all the hard work for you while you focus on recovering. We have handled many pedestrian accident cases and know how to protect you throughout the process. Please contact us to learn more if you or a loved one were injured in a serious accident by calling (612) 377-7777 or visit schwebel.com for more details.

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