Pedestrian Safety: What you need to know

Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Pedestrian Law Highlights

  • Drivers must stop for crossing pedestrians at marked crosswalks and at all intersections without crosswalks or stop lights.
  • Pedestrians must obey traffic signs and signals at all intersections that have them.
  • Vehicles stopped for pedestrians can proceed once the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.
  • Pedestrians must not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is approaching and it is impossible for the driver to stop. There is no defined distance that a pedestrian must abide by before entering the crosswalk; use common sense.
  • When a vehicle is stopped at an intersection to allow pedestrians to cross the roadway, drivers of other vehicles approaching from the rear must not pass the stopped vehicle.
  • Failure to obey the law is a misdemeanor. A second violation within one year is a gross misdemeanor.
  • Read full statute:

Pedestrian Safety Is Everyone's Responsibility

Failure to yield the right-of-way and driver inattention/distraction are the main contributing factors in pedestrian crashes. Follow these basic safety tips to prevent pedestrian-vehicle crashes.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Scan the road and sidewalks ahead for pedestrians. Drive attentively and at safe speeds. Remember, pedestrians can be difficult to see, especially in bad weather or at night.
  • Anticipate pedestrians especially in urban areas, around schools and colleges.
  • Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians.
  • Look carefully behind your vehicle before backing up, especially for small children.
  • Watch for people in wheelchairs and motorized carts, who may be below eye level.
  • Stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stoplights. Stop far enough back so drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
  • Do not block crosswalks while stopped, and don’t pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections; don’t cross-mid block and obey traffic signals.
  • Make eye contact with drivers and ensure they see you and will stop.
  • Clearly show your intentions to cross.
  • Watch for turning and passing vehicles.
  • Look across all lanes for moving vehicles before proceeding.
  • Continue to be alert and watch for vehicles when walking in a crosswalk — drivers aren't always looking for pedestrians.
  • Use sidewalks where provided — where no sidewalks are provided, it is usually safer to walk facing traffic.
  • Make it easy for drivers to see you — dress in light colors and wear retro-reflective material. Carry a flashlight when it’s dark.
  • Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do a person's ability to drive.
  • Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher speed streets.