In 2014, 364 people were killed on Minnesota roads. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety notes that this is a 7 percent decrease from the number of people killed in 2013. Drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding account for many of these accidents. About a quarter of all accidents were the result of drunk drivers. Speeding accounts for another 26% of accidents. And 17% of accidents resulted due to distracted driving. DUI crackdowns, increased enforcement of speed laws, and laws regulating cell phone use can help prevent many deaths on the road. If you’ve sustained an injury at the hands of a negligent driver in Atlanta then you may want to get legal representation from someone like the Millar Law Firm. Yet, what contributes to the other accidents that take place on Minnesota roads, and can better design prevent accidents and injuries?
Road design based on human-centered thinking may be able to lead to better accident prevention. At the end of 2015, the deaths of several people in light rail accidents led to many questions about the safety of light rail in Minneapolis and whether current crosswalk design works to prevent accidents. According to MinnPost, in urban design, there are two schools of thought. One school of thought suggests that enforcement of laws, education, and strong laws can lead to better safety. Another school of thought focuses on how users utilize streets and crosswalks and then designs these so that they fit how users want to access them rather than forcing users to abide by laws that require them to change their behavior. The idea is that if roads are designed to meet the needs of users, we won’t need heavy enforcement of laws, because people will follow laws naturally.
Does it work?
Let’s take the case of light rail and pedestrian crossings in Minneapolis. One of the great risks pedestrians face is when they try to run across the road to avoid having to wait for traffic to pass. First off, pedestrians should never run to try to beat a train or a car. You’re gambling with your life. Yet, studies have found that pedestrians are more willing to take the risk if they believe it will prevent them from having to wait a long time for another train. One way city planners prevent pedestrians from taking unnecessary risks is by increasing train frequency, and by publishing time-to-wait signs. If you’re a pedestrian and you can see that you’ll only wait 10 minutes for the next train, you’ll be less likely to play chicken with an oncoming car. Pedestrians who are uncertain about whether they’ll have to wait 20 or 30 or longer minutes for the next train may be less likely to wait.
Proper warning signals, clear crosswalks, and barriers can also prevent pedestrian accidents.
Another factor is the amount of information drivers and pedestrians are required to process while driving or walking. Design that keeps the solution simple is often the safest. For instance, changing the color of street pavement can be more effective than posting signs.
At the end of the day, research has found that logical design that works with drivers and pedestrians increases safety. Minneapolis drivers and pedestrians also have a responsibility to use caution when crossing the street and driving. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino works with accident victims and their families to raise awareness of driving risks and dangers through legal action, counsel, and victim advocacy.