Remember to look both waysMost of us cross streets every day. We take for granted that we can cross the street without an incident, because most of the time we do.
By: By Amy Reineke, Public Health Educator, Alexandria Echo Press
Most of us cross streets every day. We take for granted that we can cross the street without an incident, because most of the time we do.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each year about 7,000 pedestrians die and 10,000 are injured in traffic accidents. Young children and the elderly are more likely to be killed or injured in a pedestrian crash.
It’s easy to blame drivers for these accidents – but often it’s the pedestrians who cause the accident.
We live in a motorized society where crossing streets can be risky. In 1996 Minnesota made it easier to be a pedestrian by passing a law that requires drivers to stop and yield right-of-way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks or at intersections with no traffic control signals.
The driver must remain stopped until pedestrians have passed the lane where the vehicle is stopped.
In Douglas County we have a variety of roads and not always the option of a sidewalk. Here are some guidelines to keep you safe.
•Make sure motorists see you. If the sun is rising or setting and you could be tough to see, wear bright colors and be visible.
•Walk/jog against the flow of traffic. This allows you to see oncoming traffic. Walking in the same direction as traffic forces you to rely only on your hearing to warn you of approaching vehicles. This also makes you slightly less visible to drivers.
•Teach children about traffic safety and the correct way to cross a street. Often adults assume kids know how to cross and overestimate a child’s ability. A good guideline is to assume children younger than 10 do not always have the skills to judge speed or distance of traffic.
Here are some tips to keep children safe:
•Don’t let children play near streets or highways.
•Never leave children outside to play alone. Children ages 1-3 are often hit by vehicles backing up.
•Teach children how to cross the street. Teach them that if there is a parked car, they should check to make sure the car isn’t about to move.
As a driver, be aware that Minnesota law requires you to stop for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk or an intersection with no marked crosswalk, where there are no traffic control signals.
Follow posted speed limits and don’t be distracted. Put cell phones in the backseat so they are not a temptation, and concentrate on the road.
Pedestrian injuries/ deaths can be prevented. For information about pedestrian safety, contact the Minnesota Safety Council at 1-800-444-9150 or visit the website www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org.