A 24-year-old woman admitted to striking and killing a pedestrian and then fleeing the scene in southern Minnesota on the evening of Jan. 8. She has been charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and criminal vehicular homicide according to media reports. Both charges are felony counts. The charges were handed down in a Sibley County District Court hearing held on Jan. 9.
The number of cyclists and pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in Minnesota and around the country rose sharply in 2018 according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pedestrian deaths rose by 4% and cyclist fatalities surged by an alarming 10%. This is the highest pedestrian death toll since 1990 and the most cyclists killed since 1988. Road safety experts say rising pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are most likely caused by cellphone use and a worrying increase in distracted driving.
More people in Minnesota and other states are walking, driving SUVs and using smartphones. These are the same things that could be contributing to more pedestrian fatalities according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. It's estimated that more than 6,000 people lost their lives while walking in 2018, which is the highest level seen since 1990. This is an increase of more than 50 percent from the previous low of about 4,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2009.
When pedestrians in Minnesota are involved in a car accident, the consequences can be particularly severe. In early January 2019, four people lost their lives when trying to cross the street in the St. Paul area, a spate of deaths that prompted concern from safety advocates and researchers. One research group went out and crossed over 16,000 intersections in the region in order to spot points of potential danger and highlight ways to make the crossings safer for everyone involved. In addition, researchers worked jointly with police to increase enforcement for vehicle violations at crosswalks as well as to improve pedestrian visibility.
Daylight saving time ended on Nov. 4, meaning Minnesota motorists will spend more time driving in the dark. According to experts, this can lead to an increase in accidents involving cars and pedestrians.
Walking across a street in Minnesota has become more dangerous. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that fatal pedestrian accidents involving SUVs have spiked by 81 percent over the past 10 years. IIHS researchers noted that the increasing number of SUVs on the road and their designs could at least partially explain the surge in pedestrian deaths.
Distractions and drug use are causing an increase in pedestrian fatalities in Minnesota and across the U.S., according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Administration. The GHSA report, which was released in February, states that 5,984 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in 2017.
In 2016, there were approximately 6,000 pedestrians killed throughout the United States. This was according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, and the number represents a 22 percent increase in the past two years. Minnesota pedestrians are generally more likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident because they have little or nothing to protect themselves from the impact.
Minnesota pedestrians who are walking in low-income neighborhoods may be more likely to be hit by a car. This was one of the findings in both a white paper released by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center in 2016 and a report by the nonprofit Smart Growth America in 2017. Hispanics have a 50 percent higher fatality rate compared to whites, and the rate is almost twice as high for African-Americans.
Minnesota pedestrians may be in more danger of involvement in a deadly traffic accident than people in vehicles even though the fatality rate for traffic accidents in general has risen. However, the pedestrian death rate has risen disproportionately. In 2006, 11 percent of traffic-related fatalities were pedestrian deaths, but by 2015, that number had risen to 15 percent. Furthermore, overall, pedestrian deaths went up 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 compared with a rise of 6 percent in total traffic deaths. In 2016, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic-related accidents.