We live in a motorized society where being a pedestrian can be risky. According to Crash Facts, published by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, nearly four percent of pedestrian crashes resulted in death in 2002, compared to about one-half percent of all other crashes.
The leading identified contributing factor cited in pedestrian crashes is failure to yield right-of-way to the pedestrian, with driver inattention or distraction cited as a close second. In 1996 Minnesota made it a little easier to be a pedestrian by passing a law requiring drivers to stop and yield right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk, marked or unmarked, where there are no traffic control signals in place. (An unmarked crosswalk is defined by the area falling within the boundary of lateral lines if you were to extend the sidewalks across the street or highway.) The driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped. The following are some tips to help keep pedestrians safe:
It is important to teach children about traffic safety and the proper way to cross the street. Adults often overestimate a child's ability to walk and cross streets safely. Children under age 10 do not always have the necessary skills to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic; in addition, their peripheral vision is 1/3 less than adults'. Because of their shorter attention spans and cognitive skills, children are often impulsive and behave unpredictably in traffic situations. Here are some tips to keep children safe.
Find alternatives to playing near streets or in driveways. Children's small sizes make it difficult for a driver to see them. Adults should always supervise when small children are outdoors. Children ages 1-3 are often hit by vehicles that are backing up. Older children should be taught to never dash into the street and to always stop at the curb before proceeding.
AS A DRIVER:
Be aware that Minnesota law requires you to stop for pedestrians in any crosswalk, marked or unmarked, where there are no traffic controls present.
Follow all posted speed limits. When children are present near schools, the speed limit is usually lower than that of surrounding roadways. In residential areas, be alert for children who may be playing near the street. Children often dart out from between parked cars or shrubbery.
Pedestrian injuries can be prevented. Take care to be a defensive pedestrian and a pedestrian-alert driver.
For more information about pedestrian safety contact the Minnesota Safety Council at (651) 291-9150 or (800) 444-9150.