Being a pedestrian can be dangerous – and it’s becoming more dangerous if you look at the numbers. Fatalities are higher than they’ve been across the U.S. in 30 years, and Minnesota is no exception.
One common cause of vehicle vs. pedestrian crashes is drivers failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks that don’t have signals. However, the most serious collisions often occur at intersections that have signals. The common denominator seems to be driver behavior more than whether or not there’s a traffic signal. Speed can also be a factor – which, of course, is part of driver behavior.
An official with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) says that “research showed that no single countermeasure will increase driver yielding rates toward pedestrians. Combinations of different strategies are needed for pedestrian safety.”
How does “treating” intersections and crosswalks work?
One study in Minneapolis and Saint Paul looked at the effect of increased police enforcement, cautionary signage, signals and “treating” the road with stop bars (road lines in advance of a crosswalk or intersection) and installing “hardened centerlines” (usually bollards or rubber curbs) to prevent drivers from cutting across lanes to turn. A professor at the University of Minnesota involved with the study said, “We learned…that while localized safety treatments can effectively increase yielding at high-risk intersections, a more general cultural shift in drivers will likely require an enforcement component.”
Community education vs. increased ticketing
Researchers believe that announcing increased police presence around intersections is an important part of educating the public about the dangers to pedestrians at crosswalks. That can be more effective than police giving citations to drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one driver who is speeding, distracted, impaired or just plain unconcerned with the rights of pedestrians to cause a serious collision that can kill or catastrophically injure someone. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or worse, remember that in addition to potentially facing criminal penalties, an at-fault driver is responsible for compensation for medical costs and other expenses and damages. Having sound legal guidance can help ensure that you get a fair settlement.