The long nights and short days of autumn make it the most dangerous season for pedestrians crossing Minnesota streets, so on Tuesday state transportation officials called for extra caution on the roadways.
October and November are the peak months for pedestrian crashes in the state, based on a Star Tribune analysis of three years of data. Drivers most commonly hit pedestrians from 6 to 8 p.m. during those months.
“It’s more difficult to see people walking in the dark, so we see an increased risk for pedestrian crashes in the fall as daylight hours diminish,” Brian Sorenson, state traffic engineer, said in a statement. “Both drivers and walkers need to know and obey the laws to maximize safety. Remember, all of us walk at some point in our day.”
State officials said drivers have already killed 33 pedestrians on roadways this year. There were 45 pedestrian deaths all of 2018.
A 2016 Star Tribune analysis found that, within the metro area, pedestrian crashes are far more common in Minneapolis and St. Paul. But suburban crashes resulted in many more deaths, likely due to high-speed roadways and sparse sidewalks and crosswalks.
Minnesota’s pedestrian safety record is better than most other states. Only North Dakota had a lower per capita pedestrian death rate in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest report on the topic.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, the 16th largest in the nation, had too few fatal pedestrian crashes between 2014 and 2018 to be included on NHTSA’s Top 25 ranking of metro areas by pedestrian deaths.
“While Minneapolis is one of the safer large cities in the country due to many years of safety investments, one death on our streets is one too many,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and City Council President Lisa Bender wrote in a draft of the city’s Vision Zero action plan to reduce traffic deaths.