Pedestrian accidents: a 2-way street

Both pedestrians and motorists are expected to obey traffic laws.

Daily Editorial Board

The increasingly short days and long nights make October the most dangerous month out of the year for pedestrians.  As a result, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is launching a campaign to increase awareness and encourage both pedestrians and motorists to be on the lookout for one another. Last year, 40 pedestrian deaths were reported statewide, and 24 deaths have been reported so far this year. The number of pedestrian fatalities has remained consistent over the years, even while the number of deaths from vehicle crashes has declined. 

Here at the University of Minnesota, home to some of the busiest streets in the state, students and faculty aren’t strangers to the constant tension between cars and pedestrians. According to MnDot, 102 pedestrian-related crashes took place on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis between 2007 and 2011, and 13 of those were either fatal or resulted in serious injury. 

Even on the campus’ quieter streets, students on their way to class will often cut across the street in front of cars and mopeds in order to save time. While motorists certainly share the blame in accidents, as pedestrians we often feel the rules of the road don’t apply to us and jaywalking against the light is allowed, as there is little to no enforcement of pedestrian laws. These actions disrupt the flow of traffic, especially when large groups of students walk against the light, halting motorists even when they have the right of way.

Students rushing around campus ought to be courteous to motorists and keep in mind they are expected to obey the traffic laws, too. Motorists should also be aware that the campus is incredibly busy and home to thousands of students and staff.