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What should motorists do to avoid causing a pedestrian accident?

Winter may be coming, but pedestrians and bicyclists will still be on Minnesota roads. According to the Office of Traffic Safety, every year from 2011 to 2015, an average of 35 pedestrians and seven bicyclists lose their lives after being struck by a vehicle. Combined, they constituted almost 11 percent of all traffic deaths. Most of these collisions -- 72 percent -- took place in urban parts of the state.

While it is important for bicyclists and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road, motorists must pay attention to everyone in their vicinity to avoid a pedestrian accident. The following safety tips should be followed by motorists who may encounter bicyclists or pedestrians on the road.

Motorists must yield to the right of way of bicyclists when appropriate. Motorists must also make sure they are not distracted by cellphones or other passengers, and motorists must not drive if they are fatigued. Motorists must keep a three-foot clearance when passing a person riding a bike. Motorists must not speed, and they should check their blind spots. Motorists should look twice for bicyclists before executing a turn, and, when parked on the side of the road, motorists should be careful not to open their vehicle's door in front of a bicyclist.

Motorists must stop when pedestrians are crossing the street at a crosswalk or intersection. They should wait until the pedestrian has completely passed them before continuing to drive. If one motorist is stopped to let a pedestrian by, motorists behind them should not try to go around them. Driving attentively and not speeding are safe measures for motorists to take to avoid auto-pedestrian accidents. Motorists should look both ways before turning and should check their rear-view mirror to avoid striking a pedestrian. Finally, motorists should not block crosswalks that pedestrians may be trying to use.

These safety tips can prevent motorists from causing a fatal accident involving a pedestrian or bicyclist. However, they may come too little too late for those who have already lost a loved one in a fatal pedestrian or bicycle accident. When this happens, it is important to determine whether the motorist is at fault for the crash. If so, the victim's survivors may wish to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party. While no amount of money can bring back a lost loved one, it can help a family out financially during a difficult time in their lives.

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