ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Two state agencies are working together to stop the number of pedestrian deaths on Minnesota’s roads.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the state’s Department of Public Safety are working with other safety advocates on the project called “Share the Road.”
Officials with MnDOT said 23 pedestrians have been killed by vehicles so far this year. That’s up from 14 at the same time last year.
“You know a single death is a death too many,” said Kevin Gutknecht with MnDOT.
One big reason for the deaths is inattention.
“Half the time it’s the motorist. Half the time it’s the pedestrian,” Gutknecht said.
He recommends that people look twice when crossing the street and wear reflective clothing if out walking at night. Pedestrians should also be wary when wearing headphones and make sure they are paying attention to traffic.
“And stay off the busy roads if you can,” Gutknecht said.
The latest pedestrian-car death occurred in Onamia, where 14-year-old Katelin Sawyer was struck and killed while walking to a football game.
The “Share the Road” project will guard against such tragedies with billboard, bus and radio ads aimed at both pedestrians and motorists.
Gordy Pehrson, a state traffic safety engineer, said part of the growing problem is that motorists are ignoring pedestrians who have the right of way.
“Motorists are not following the pedestrian right of way laws, some of that is because they may not understand [them],” he said.
Last year, 857 Minnesota pedestrians were killed or injured by motorists. That’s 50 more than the year before. In 35 percent of the cases, drivers failed to yield.
But pedestrians are often at fault, too. Of the 40 pedestrians killed last year, 27 percent who had their blood alcohol tested were legally drunk.
Minnesota’s “Share the Road” pedestrian safety campaign provides materials, information and resources for anyone looking to improve pedestrian safety in a community, school, county or other areas.