According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in 2014, 29,439 people were injured in auto accidents. Another 361 people were killed on the road. Lawmakers and city planners are constantly looking for new ways to increase road safety. In Minneapolis, two areas that have been identified for improvement are traffic signal positioning and accessible sidewalks for people with disabilities.
According to Transit Talk, the city of Minneapolis will invest $4 million in sidewalk improvements to make curbs more accessible to people with disabilities in addition to the installation of improved traffic signals. The improvements will affect sidewalks and signals between 35th and 36th street between Blaisdell and Park avenues.
Initially, the city had planned to invest only around $2 million in the project to repair the signals, but federal guidelines and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that when repairs are made to city roads, the repairs must also ensure that the sidewalks and roadways are ADA compliant. The signals will also be improved to alert pedestrians by voice when the signal is about to change, reducing the risk that visually-impaired individuals will try to cross when they don’t have a signal. Corrugations on the sidewalk will also alert those with visual impairments that the sidewalk is about to end.
The city decided to increase its budget after St. Paul faced lawsuits after repairing a damaged city road, but not improving sidewalk curbs to make them ADA compliant. The law requires that cities make all roads and sidewalks ADA compliant during improvement projects.
Another improvement that will be added to the signals are pedestrian countdown times. These countdown times keep people safer because pedestrians make better decisions about when to cross and when not to cross when the countdowns are present. People can get a better sense of how long they have to cross and whether it is safe to do so. The hope is that these new signals will reduce the number of personal injury accidents at crosswalks.
Road traffic signals themselves will also be elevated to increase visibility. The new signals are designed to reduce the number of crashes that take place when a bus, truck, or other large vehicle blocks the current low-lying traffic lights. When cars can’t see the signal and run a red light, these crashes are often far more devastating.
The improvements highlight the importance of smart city design to increasing traffic safety. Traffic design, such as the signals pedestrians see, the way curbs are designed, and the position of traffic lights, can have an immense impact on public safety and decrease the number of auto accidents that occur every year.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Even with improvements, drivers need to avoid distracted driving, drinking and driving, and other behaviors that can put everyone’s safety at risk. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is a personal injury law office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to helping victims of auto accidents get the justice they deserve.