A lot of pedestrians were killed on Minnesota roads last year – the most we've seen in 25 years.
There were 60 pedestrian deaths in 2016, according to preliminary road fatality numbers released Thursday by the Department of Public Safety. In 2015 there were 41, and 2014 only had 17.
Officials said the last time Minnesota saw numbers this high was in 1991, when there were 61 pedestrian deaths.
The department told GoMN it's too early to tell exactly what caused this spike in pedestrians deaths.
"It is distressing to see such an increase in pedestrian deaths," said Office of Traffic Safety Director Donna Berger. “It’s especially upsetting because this doesn’t have to happen. These tragedies are preventable."
Berger went on to say both motorists and pedestrians have to do their part to prevent these deaths.
Motorists need to slow down and pay attention. Watch for pedestrians, and don't be looking at your phone. Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of crashes.
Pedestrians also must be careful though. The department recommends only crossing where crosswalks are marked, or where there are traffic lights. Even though you have the right-of-way, make sure you check for vehicles and make eye contact with drivers before you cross the street. Also, never walk down the middle of the road or try to cross an interstate.
Other road fatalities
Safety officials say there were a total of 397 road deaths – including pedestrian deaths – in 2016. Although the Department of Public Safety expects the final number to be closer to 412.
That'd be slightly more than 2015, when 411 people were killed. That was considered the deadliest year on Minnesota roads since 2010.
State officials had hoped to significantly lower that number for 2016.
Preliminary numbers show seven bicyclists also died last year. In 2015, 10 bicyclists died in crashes.