Staying Safe Walking
Staying safe while walking can be as simple as the childhood saying, “stop, look, and listen.”
- Stop at the intersection.
- Look both ways to make sure it is safe to cross.
- Listen to make sure no traffic is coming.
Drivers have a responsibility for pedestrian safety, too. In the state of Minnesota, all intersections are a crosswalk (even those not marked) and drivers are required to stop.
MnDOT’s Share the Road campaign has some additional tips for drivers and walkers.
- Stop for crossing pedestrians.
- Stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stop lights.
- Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians.
- Leave lots of room between you and the pedestrian when stopping.
Always Watch for Pedestrians
- Scan the road and sides of the road ahead 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.
Avoid Distracted and Aggressive Driving
- Put away the cell phones, food, and make-up.
- Stop for pedestrians, even when they are in the wrong or crossing mid-block.
- Never pass or drive around a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
- Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at stop signs.
- Look before you cross.
- 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.
Make Yourself Visible to Drivers
- Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing.
- Cross in a well-lit area at night.
- Wear bright-colored clothing and reflective material.
- Mount a safety flag on a wheelchair, motorized cart, or stroller.
Avoid Dangerous and Distracted Behaviors
- Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections; don’t cross mid-block.
- Remove headphones and stay off cell phones while crossing.
- Obey all traffic signals.
- Don’t solely rely on traffic signals; look for vehicles before crossing.
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
- If intoxicated, don’t walk without assistance. A cab ride home may be a safer option.
Winter Walking Safety
We Minnesotans like to be active in the winter, but walking in the winter adds a degree of difficulty. According to MnDOT, most crashes happen in the late fall and early winter, so staying safe while walking becomes even more important this time of year.
Many of us are leaving the house in the morning when it’s dark in the winter. It isn’t much better coming home. With that in mind, it is important that everyone can see you.
Some winter clothing now comes with built-in reflective material. You can also purchase reflective vests or arm bands to help you be more visible. Adding a light to your jacket, hat, or bag is sure to make you stand out as a pedestrian.
Despite temperatures falling below freezing, your body can heat up pretty quickly, in as little as five to ten minutes, under a heavy winter coat while walking.
Wearing something waterproof and windproof on the outside will keep you dry and warm. Wool and synthetic materials on the inside will wick away any sweat that might freeze once you cool down.
Protect Yourself From the Neck Up
- When temperatures are as low as they were last winter, frostbite can occur in as little as five minutes. While that is pretty rare, we still suggest you cover as much of your skin as possible if you plan to be out for an extended period of time in the winter.
- Wear a scarf or a balaclava to cover your neck, mouth, and nose.
- Mittens keep in the most heat so your fingers and hands stay toasty and warm. Don’t forget your hat, which will not only keep your head and ears warm, but will help to retain body heat.
Shoes Make the Person
When picking out footwear for the winter, keep in mind that plastic- and leather-soled shoes don’t grip very well to snow and ice. Instead, opt for shoes that have rubber or neoprene soles. You can also look into getting something to fit over your shoes or boots to provide a bit more traction, like Yaktrax.
Get boots that are a little loose to keep circulation flowing and wear wool or synthetic socks that will wick away moisture to keep your feet warm and dry.
St. Paul Walks is a city-wide pedestrian safety campaign comprised of a coalition of volunteers from across Saint Paul focusing on getting drivers to slow down for pedestrians, specifically at intersections, whether they are marked or unmarked. Learn more.