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Ask a Trooper: What to do at a pedestrian crossing

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo

Question: I was wondering what to do at pedestrian flashing crosswalk lights. Am I to wait till the lights stop flashing and the crosswalk is clear of pedestrians or can I go forward when it is safe to?

Answer: Most pedestrian flashing lights are set up at a crosswalk. Reminder that if there is a pedestrian that is curbside and is waiting to cross in a crosswalk, motorists must yield the right of way and stop for them. There are some crosswalks that have activation systems where a pedestrian can push a button to activate the flashing amber pedestrian light, while others have a flashing light that flashes even if there are no pedestrians.

If you are driving and approach a flashing amber pedestrian light and you see no one in the crosswalk or anyone waiting to cross, you can proceed through the crosswalk and intersection.

Vehicles stopped for pedestrians can proceed once the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.

Each year in Minnesota, approximately 39 pedestrians and seven bicyclists are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Preliminary figures currently show 14 pedestrians were killed compared to eight this same time last year in Minnesota.

As a group, pedestrians and bicyclists comprise nearly 12 percent of all traffic fatalities each year —69% of these fatal crashes occur in urban areas.

35% of pedestrians and 18% of bicyclists killed had consumed alcohol. 19% of pedestrians killed were crossing improperly.

• Drivers must stop for crossing pedestrians at marked crosswalks and at all intersections without crosswalks or stop lights.

• Pedestrians must obey traffic-control signals at all intersections that have them.

• Pedestrians must obey pedestrian control signals.

• 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.

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