ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota is becoming a safer place for pedestrians, state figures show.
The number of Minnesota pedestrians struck and killed by motorists in 1999 fell for the second year in a row, according to the Department of Public Safety. There was a 9 percent drop in fatalities and a 6 percent drop in injury accidents.
Motorists injured 1,330 pedestrians in 1999, compared to 1,410 in 1998, while pedestrian deaths fell from 56 in 1998 to 51 last year.
It's part of a long-term trend of declining pedestrian fatalities and injuries in Minnesota. The numbers of pedestrian crashes is at its lowest level since the 1960s, said Ann Kulenkamp, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Safety Council.
That's good, but not good enough, Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver said Tuesday.
''We still have far too many pedestrian deaths,'' Weaver said.
In each of the past two years, legislators have given the safety council $50,000 to raise awareness. Efforts have ranged from a statewide radio campaign to neighborhood programs to decoy operations.
The St. Paul suburb of Bayport hopes to use $1,500 it will get from the program this year to boost its decoy operation for nabbing motorists who break the state's crosswalk law.
Last November, a Bayport mother and her two children were hit by a van while crossing a highway outside an elementary school, prompting the crackdown.
Since this spring, Bayport Police Chief John Gannaway said, officers and department employees have entered crossings when approaching vehicles are about a block away. If the cars don't stop, a nearby squad car stops the violator and issues a citation, he said.
''It's unfortunately doing very well,'' the chief said.
The 1996 law requires drivers to stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk, marked or unmarked, where there are no traffic control signals in place.
During a crosswalk demonstration in the West Side neighborhood last May, St. Paul police officers issued 44 citations. Throughout the effort, motorists complained even though they were breaking the law, said Sue Nipe, director of the West Side Safe Neighborhood Council.
Sometimes forgotten is the responsibility of pedestrians, Nipe said. They must use crosswalks and cross at appropriate times, she said.
According to state figures, 25 percent of all pedestrians struck were trying to cross where there was no crosswalk and no signal.
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