September 23, 2021
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Reducing fatalities among pedestrians and improving safety for all travelers is the focus of a new statewide safety campaign launched by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT]

The theme for this campaign – “Let’s Move Safely Together” – highlights safety tips that remind people to use extra caution when driving and walking. So far this year, the Minnesota DOT said 24 people have died while walking on roads statewide, while 224 people died in vehicle crashes.

Photo by the Minnesota DOT.

The move follows the release of the Minnesota DOT’s first Statewide Pedestrian System Plan in May 2021 – a plan that provides “policy and investment guidance” to improve places where people walk across and along Minnesota highways.

“One life lost on our roadways is too many. When we work as a team and watch out for each other, we can save lives and make progress Toward Zero Deaths,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the agency’s commissioner, in a statement.

“That means drivers need to slow down and stop for people crossing the road,” she added. “When you’re walking, look all ways before crossing and stay alert because people driving may not see you.”

The agency is highlighting aspects of this safety campaign via its Pedestrian Safety Education website as well via social media channels and through television, newspaper, digital and radio ads across the state now through October.

State departments of transportation across the country are ramping up efforts to address pedestrian safety needs.

Photo by NCDOT

For example, while a report issued in March by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed pedestrian fatalities trended up in the first half of 2020, the report also noted how several state-directed efforts are successfully improving pedestrian safety.

GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report found that the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate increased 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 as speeding, distracted, and impaired driving – as well as other dangerous driving behaviors – increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2020 declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, nine states – Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina – witnessed double-digit percentage and numeric declines in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019.

GHSA’s report noted that most pedestrians are killed on local roads, in the dark, and away from intersections – suggesting the need for safer road crossings and increased efforts to make pedestrians more visible through improved lighting and other countermeasures.

editor@aashto.org

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