ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Every other day, a pedestrian in St. Paul is hit by a driver. On Friday night, a man was killed at the corner of Rice Street and Como Avenue.
Starting Monday, St. Paul police are conducting a two-week crackdown on drivers who don’t stop when they should.
So, what is the state’s law when it comes to pedestrians and drivers crossing the street?
“The rules are once a pedestrian enters the crosswalk, meaning they have one foot in the crosswalk, and the driver is approaching, if there is enough time, they have to slow down and stop,” says St. Paul Police Commander Jeremy Ellison.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently found only 43 percent of drivers stop when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk. That’s up from 40 percent last fall.
“Overwhelmingly the answer is I didn’t see the pedestrians,” says Commander Ellison. “The problem is they’re distracted or not looking for pedestrians.”
On Monday, St. Paul Officer Josh Moore walked the intersection at Marion and Charles back and forth. He steps one foot into crosswalk, makes eye contact with the driver and then walks. In most cases, drivers stopped. Only once was there a close call where a driver had to swerve around him.
The ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian is $186. And, if one driver stops — and another behind that one doesn’t and drives around — that second driver will have to make an appearance in court.
“If you’re paying attention, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to stop safely,” Officer Moore says.
Intersections with stoplights signal to pedestrians when it’s safe to walk. The state law is different when it comes to intersections without signals.
All intersections without signals are considered crosswalks, whether they are painted or not.
As for crossing the street mid-block, a person can cross when there are no stoplights at the end of the street as long as the pedestrian yields for the car. For streets that have stoplights at both ends, crossing mid-block is not allowed.
The majority of pedestrians getting hit happen at intersections with stoplights, but Commander Ellison hopes getting people to pay attention at the crosswalks without stoplights will encourage them to pay more attention at all intersections.
The University of Minnesota is partnering with St. Paul police to collect data at the same time the City is considering engineering changes to its streets.
“That’s really what we’re trying to do in St. Paul, that culture change,” says Commander Ellison. “In St. Paul, we stop for pedestrians.”