Ask a Patch Pro: Pedestrian Safety

What can pedestrians and drivers do to make life safer for people on foot?

Walking is such a basic, everyday activity—putting one foot in front of the other—that news of pedestrians dying or suffering severe injuries while they're simply out and about is particularly harrowing.

What steps can pedestrians, motorists, even bicyclists take to reduce the danger to people who simply want or need to walk to get from one place to another in the community? Is there anything local or state government is or should be doing?

Ask your questions in comments below and look for a reply from an expert.

Our Patch Pros for this topic are James Ingham of Northfield Hospital EMS, Anne Marie Buck, the police services liaison at the Hopkins Police Department, Dale Butler of Fridley, who blogs about pedestrian safety at a blog called, appropriately enough, Pedestrian Safety, and Fay Simer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Our panel of experts will check the comments below and try to answer your questions over the course of this Ask a Patch Pro feature on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. Thanks to all our Patch pros and questioners for participating!

Sean Hayford Oleary October 25, 2012 at 11:19 PM
They really aren't dangerous for cars -- it's almost universally accepted that they reduce fatal accidents by about 90%. I have mixed feelings on how beneficial they are to pedestrians and cyclists, however. They probably still reduce *fatal* accidents, since cars are physically forced to slow down, and it's rare for a pedestrian to die if the vehicle is going <20 mph on impact. But they may increase non-fatal accidents, and at the very least are more distressing for most than a walk signal.
Sean Hayford Oleary October 25, 2012 at 11:22 PM
The rear-ending thing is a bit strange to me. Here in Richfield, our major streets have 35 mph speed zones and no turn lanes -- so if you're turning left, you likely have to make a complete stop in a traffic lane. If you're turning right, you need to slow to 5-10 mph. While I'm sure accidents happen in these contexts, too, nobody seems so terrified of getting rear-ended that they don't turn off these streets as a matter of course. If you have adequate time to react to the pedestrian, how is this any different?
Susan October 26, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Chris, in a rear-end collision, I am pretty sure it is always the fault of the driver in back. They are following too close, not paying close enough attention, or traveling too fast for conditions. Of-course this does not make it any better for the person getting hit and/or hurt, but it is the tail-gater who is to blame, not the person stopping. CB, if you are still monitoring, could you (or anyone else in the know) confirm?
Dale Butler October 26, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I agree with MR. Oleary, I also think if you are so worried about the car behind you are spending too much time with your eye glued to the rear view mirror. If that is the case you need to move out of the way and allow that car to pass. distracted driving by constantly monitoring the rearview mirror is just as bad as any other type of distracted driving with the possible exception of texting, which we all know is the most dangerous.
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