Safe walking, bicycling and driving needed as schools start new year
There is an increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic around schools starting this week as students across the state head back to school. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is asking pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to practice safety as they travel.
Pedestrians should use crosswalks and sidewalks when available, and look left, right and left again before crossing the street. When no sidewalks are available, they should walk on the left side of the road toward traffic.
About a third of all pedestrian crashes occur during the weekday morning and afternoon rush hour driving times. In 2015, 32 percent of pedestrians killed and 26 percent injured were trying to cross a road at an area with no crosswalk and no signal.
In 2015 the top two most contributing factors for crashes between vehicles and pedestrians were motorist failure to yield right of way and motorist inattention or distraction.
Bicyclists should ride predictably so motorists know what their intentions are. This means using hand signals, riding in a straight line and obeying traffic signals. Bicyclists are subject to the same laws as motor vehicles. They should wear helmets and wear reflective gear to increase their visibility.
About a third of all bicycle crashes occur during the afternoon rush hours of 3 to 6 p.m. Bicyclists’ failure to yield right of way and disregard for traffic control devices were the top two contributing factors to crashes in 2015 when bicyclists were at fault. When motorists were at fault, the contributing factors were failure to yield right of way and driver inattention or distraction.
Motorists should look for children at intersections, crosswalks and along roads. It’s the law to stop for pedestrians within the crosswalk. It’s also the law to give a three-foot clearance, and to yield to bicyclists before making a turn. Motorists should also focus on driving and avoid distractions, such as eating or drinking and using cell phones, while operating their vehicles.