Our View: Drive safely
April 30, 2021
It’s springtime; we’re emerging (hopefully) from a year of pandemic isolation; and many of us are returning to work, all of which is making our roads busier than we’ve seen in quite a while. And while we’re not sure things are even close to getting back to normal, we know that encouraging safe driving is good for our community.
Statistics from the Minnesota Safety Council traffic safety programs show an increase in speed-related traffic fatalities last year — the highest since 2008. Distracted driving, often linked to cell phone use while driving, contributed to 5,580 crashes and 30 fatalities last year. Work zones crashes, however, declined by almost 10 percent, suggesting that increased penalties and increased awareness can help.
We’d like to see our region work on driving more safely throughout our community. We’ve noticed more pedestrians and bicycles, who have to cross roadways at some point. We are hoping it becomes the new norm for drivers to slow down at crosswalks and defer to them. We’ve seen too many people, often children or families, trying to cross at busy crosswalks with terrified looks on their faces as drivers fail to slow down, or to stop as required at marked crosswalks and intersections without crosswalks or stop lights. By recognizing pedestrians and slowing down, we can help keep our community safer.
The pedestrians can help, too. It’s rude to stand at a crosswalk without intending to cross, as it makes drivers confused about their intentions — are they crossing? Do I slow down? Stop? If you are standing at a crosswalk, try to make eye contact with drivers, which helps communication. Parents, teach your children to follow basic crossing procedures: look both ways, be aware of drivers making turns, and stay vigilant.
There’s an old saying: pedestrians have the right of way, and man is king of his household, until either one of them tries to prove it. We know the pedestrian is always the loser when colliding with a vehicle, no matter who’s at fault. Let’s stay safe out there, Carlton County, and drive safely.