Ask a Trooper: Best practices for pedestrians

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“ASK A TROOPER” by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol

Ask a Trooper with Sgt. Jesse GrabowQuestion: On most days I observe college students who are wearing dark jackets and hats, listening to “tunes” while walking, or walking in the same direction as motor traffic rather than facing that traffic. This street has no sidewalks, so all the walking occurs close to the cars. I am concerned that these young people are putting themselves at risk of becoming victims of motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Are there are any laws regarding these behaviors or at least any generally accepted “best practices”?

Answer: We all need to do our part in reducing the number of pedestrians and bicycle crashes by looking out for each other by avoiding all distractions and obeying all traffic laws. With spring upon us, more people will be out walking, jogging and bicycling. Each year in Minnesota, approximately 35 pedestrians and 7 bicyclists are killed because of collisions with motor vehicles.

•             From 2011-2015: Pedestrians and bicyclists comprised of nearly 11 percent of all traffic fatalities each year —71 percent of these fatal crashes occur in urban areas.

•             38 percent of pedestrians and 27 percent of bicyclists killed had consumed alcohol.

•             18 percent of pedestrians killed were not crossing properly.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

•             Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections; do not cross-mid block and obey traffic signals.

•             Make eye contact with drivers and ensure they see you and will stop.

•             Clearly show your intentions to cross.

•             Watch for turning and passing vehicles.

•             Look across all lanes for moving vehicles before proceeding.

•             Continue to be alert and watch for vehicles when walking in a crosswalk — drivers are not always looking for pedestrians.

•             Use sidewalks where provided — where no sidewalks are provided, it is usually safer to walk facing traffic.

•             Make it easy for drivers to see you — dress in light colors and wear retro-reflective material. Carry a flashlight at night.

•             Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just as they do a person’s ability to drive.

Failure to yield the right-of-way and driver inattention/distraction are the main contributing factors in pedestrian crashes.

Safety Tips for Drivers

•             Scan the road and sidewalks ahead for pedestrians. Drive attentively and at safe speeds.

•             Anticipate pedestrians especially in urban areas, around schools and colleges.

•             Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians.

•             Look carefully behind your vehicle before backing up, especially for small children.

•             Stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stoplights.  Stop far enough back so drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.

•             Do not block crosswalks while stopped, and do not pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at [email protected].


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