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School’s in, and so is pedestrian safety

Sept. 14, 2020

A man and two children using a crosswalk to cross a street


School is back in session, and whether it’s virtual or in-person, routines have changed. You may see kids and parents in your neighborhood walking to school, catching the school bus, or just exercising after their at-home school day is over. No matter their motivation, it’s important for pedestrians big and small to be careful, and for drivers to watch out for them.

Each year in Minnesota, approximately 48 pedestrians are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles (2015-2019). Fortunately, whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver, there are steps you can take to guard against crashes and resulting injuries or fatalities. A few safety tips are listed below, but you can also read the bike and pedestrian laws for more detail. And for elementary school-aged children, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a Child Pedestrian Safety Curriculum.

Drivers

  • Never drive distracted.

  • Always drive the speed limit.

  • Look carefully for pedestrians, including small children and people in wheelchairs.

  • Take particular care in intersections, when turning, and when opening your door after parking on the roadside. Don’t forget your blind spots.

  • Stop for a pedestrian crossing at any corner, even if it isn’t marked with a crosswalk. This is the law.

  • When other vehicles are stopped for a pedestrian, don’t pass them.

Pedestrians

  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.

  • Cross only at corners, a marked crosswalk, or where a traffic light is present, never in the middle of a block.

  • Don’t enter a crosswalk if an oncoming vehicle won’t have enough room to stop.

  • When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to be sure they’ll stop.

  • Use the sidewalk. If there isn’t one, walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic.

  • Pay attention and look for additional cars while crossing the street. Never assume drivers see you.

  • Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing when walking at night.

In all cases, avoid drugs and excessive alcohol. They can impair your judgment as severely on foot as they can behind the wheel. Also, stay off your phone while crossing the road. Distractions can lead to serious or fatal consequences. If you and your children familiarize yourselves with traffic laws, obey the traffic signs and signals, and follow these safety tips, you have a much greater chance of staying safe, whether you’re walking to kindergarten or driving to work.