It’s in Your Court: Laws in place to protect pedestrians

|      By Judge Steven Halsey
Contributing Columnist

Spring is finally here, so we look forward once again to walking, running, jogging and biking. It seems in our state, however, there is far less compliance than in other states with traffic laws intended to protect pedestrians. From past experience, I conclude that in other states, either enforcement is stricter than in Minnesota or motorists simply have more courtesy and respect for pedestrians than in our state. Since school ends shortly and children will be crossing our streets more frequently, I am going to provide a brief refresher on pedestrian laws with information from the Minnesota Safety Council:

“Where traffic control signals are not in place or in operation, a driver must stop for a pedestrian crossing within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. A vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk can proceed once the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.

“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 other vehicle.

“It is unlawful for the driver of a motor vehicle to proceed through a group of school children crossing a street or highway, or past a member of a school safety patrol or adult crossing guard who is directing children across the roadway and who is holding an official signal in the stop position.”

Some of you may have stood at the curb in a marked crosswalk and received the universal sign of derision (middle finger) or honking and shouts of profanity from a driver. It is unfortunate that many drivers seem to think that their mission to get to their destination is so much more important than anyone else’s. Others are distracted by their cellphones. Likewise, jaywalkers and bikers who ignore traffic laws put themselves at risk and incur the consternation of drivers.

For all of us who share the road and sidewalks, we should consider and take to heart the messages that the Minnesota Department of Transportation and others have been broadcasting, which discourage aggressive driving, as well as texting while driving. In doing so, we can all contribute to safer highways and byways, thereby lessening the frequency of tragedy on Minnesota streets and roads. You can also avoid a traffic citation that will cost you a minimum of $110.

Judge Steve Halsey, Wright County District Court, is chambered in Buffalo and is the host of “The District Court Show” on local cable TV public access channels throughout the 10th Judicial District. Excerpts can be viewed at Go to Community and click “The District Court Show.” Halsey may also be heard on “Legal Happenings” on KRWC 1360 AM (Buffalo) on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.

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