ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — St. Paul police are cracking down on drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross the street.
Starting Monday, officers will be issuing tickets to drivers who keep on driving, even when it’s clear someone at an intersection is waiting to walk across the street.
To give you an idea of how big of a problem pedestrian safety is in St. Paul, police say that every other day, a driver hits a person in St. Paul. In the last five years, 17 people have died in these type of collisions.
“It’s happening because people are not paying attention. We surveyed nearly every driver we stopped for the past couple of years and we asked them why didn’t you stop for the pedestrian? Almost every single one of them says, ‘I didn’t see the pedestrian,’” Commander Jeremy Ellinson with the St. Paul Police Department said.
St. Paul police are trying to raise awareness that Minnesota law requires drivers to come to a complete stop for a person at a crosswalk.
Starting Monday, officers are writing tickets.
“This time instead of getting warnings, drivers are going to get citations. How much is the fine? $186,” Ellinson said.
And if it’s a scenario like this, where one driver stops for a pedestrian but a second driver in another lane doesn’t, that driver would have to appear in court and pay the fine.
“What we are really trying to do is get drivers to slow down and go the speed limit. Actively look and scan the corners of the intersection. If you see someone is there trying to cross the street, slow down and stop,” Ellinson said.
To catch the offenders, some police officers will ditch their uniforms and wear plain clothes like regular pedestrians. They’ll attempt to cross the street at busy intersections.
“They will be making sure to put their foot into the crosswalk, making sure to look at the driver to make eye contact, so that the driver knows their intent,” Ellinson said.
Sandra Nelson says she takes daily walks.
“I almost was killed. He came close to my toes and my hands were up in the air. It was really scary,” Nelson said.
Commander Ellison says every intersection in Minnesota is a crosswalk, whether it is marked with those white lines or not. And, he says, pedestrians have to do their part as well.
Pay attention and make sure drivers see you and appear to be slowing down before stepping out into the street. The enforcement effort starts Monday, and will continue for two weeks.