Officials Launch Pedestrian Safety Campaign
Now that daylight hours are becoming shorter, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is encouraging drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other.
October is the most dangerous month for pedestrians, and MnDOT officials are trying to get the word out, Minnesota Public Radio reported Tuesday.
The campaign includes safety messages at busy intersections in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester, as well as billboards and ads on the radio and on buses.
Last year, 40 pedestrians were killed and more than 800 were injured statewide. So far this year, two dozen pedestrians have died.
The numbers of pedestrian deaths and injuries have remained consistent in recent years, even though the number of fatal vehicle crashes has declined - and public safety officials are concerned about the lack of progress.
"I think it's just a little bit harder of a nut to crack," said Sue Groth, the state's traffic engineer.
Many motorists don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, Groth said, while many pedestrians either don't pay attention, cross the street against the light or jaywalk.
"The laws are harder to enforce, and it involves both motorist and pedestrian behavior," Groth said. "A lot of this could be solved just with pedestrians and motorists looking for each other, making eye contact and following the laws."
Better vigilance, officials said, could help prevent deaths like that of Louise Laugen, who was hit by car in December while walking home with groceries in Minneapolis. When the 69-year-old crossed Park Avenue just steps away from her apartment building, the intersection had no stoplight.
One of Laugen's neighbors, Elizabeth Smith, helped organize an effort to persuade city officials to install the new traffic signal at the intersection. Laugen's friends have tied a bouquet of flowers to a sign post there, and they hope to install a more permanent memorial soon to remind everyone why it's finally easier to cross the street.
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