“Stop for Me” law promotes safer streets

According to St. Paul Smart Trips, a non-profit advocating for transportation options, 40 pedestrians were killed and over 900 were injured by vehicles in 2015. The city of St. Paul is finally taking action against these startling numbers. Beginning the week of April 30, a new law was put in effect in St. Paul. The “Stop for Me” law requires drivers to stop at crosswalks, letting pedestrians have the right-of-way. Anyone making crosswalks unsafe for pedestrians by ignoring the law and screeching through intersections will be ticketed. This is a welcomed addition to pre-existing crosswalk laws.

However, this new law will only work if drivers follow it. This new law is being put in place as a result of drivers not following pre-existing state laws. A study from the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 2017, before this law was created, saw that only 31% of drivers yielded to pedestrians.

Police have taken note of this statistic, and for the last two weeks have been positioned at eight high-risk intersections to watch for offending drivers. They are only giving out warnings for the moment, but this warning phase will end in June when police will start giving out $100 fines to drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians. However, their efforts will only be effective if drivers take note. Pedestrians are ten times more likely to be killed after being hit by a car than drivers and passengers are in a two-vehicle collision, when drivers start to stop for them it will mean safer streets for everyone.

The “Stop for Me” crosswalk law is a great first step towards creating safer streets for pedestrians, and once police start enforcing the fine, drivers will have more incentive to stop. But in the long run, drivers shouldn’t need to have a fine motivating them to yield to people who aren’t as safe as they are. Drivers need to recognize pedestrians’ safety as their responsibility, not their decision.