(FOX 9) - In 2016, Dannielle Sallblad was with her dog and they were crossing a street in Maple Grove.
“I was doing all the right things in that moment; I waited for the walk sign, looked both ways started walking,” she recalled.
She didn’t see the threat until the very last second as she was in the crosswalk.
“I can remember the sound of my body hitting his car,” said Sallblad.
Her body flew onto the hood and then rolled off to the pavement. She landed on the back of her head. The family dog, died in that crosswalk.
“My life is different and it’s going to be different. I’ll never get Maggie back,” she said.
Sallblad was left with a permanent traumatic brain injury, so she can no longer smell or taste things.
That’s been especially hard for the new mom.
“I have never smelt my son,” she said.
CRASHES ON THE RISE
In Minnesota, 102 people were killed in 2016 and 2017, the most deadly two-year period in almost 20 years.
The number of injuries continues to rise year to year.
SIMULATOR REVEALS REALITY
At the HumanFIRST laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Nichole Morris studies driver behavior with a state of the art driving simulator.
She recruited four volunteers to test to see how they would react behind the wheel when facing sudden obstacles like a bicyclist darting into traffic. Each one drove the same urban course, but at a different speed; one at 40, another at 35 and a couple at 25.
“That just like totally took me off guard, and you could feel the bump of hitting him too so that was really scary to me,” said test driver Maegan Green.
Every one of the test drivers hit at least one of the obstacles.
The greater the speed, the more likely they were to have a collision.
“Our speeds are too high, even the speed limit is too high for us to be able to make sure that pedestrians aren’t killed in crashes,” Morris said.
Foot and bike traffic is on the rise in metro communities, and so is the problem of distracted driving, a dangerous combination.
According to safety experts, changing the speed limit in urban areas from 30 to 25 miles an hour would save lives and reduce injuries.
A FOX 9 TEST
To see what a difference speed can make, FOX 9 went to the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center at St. Cloud State with two mannequins, serving as crash test dummies, which were donated to FOX 9 by ASF Store Fixtures in Minneapolis.
“People think 30 mph isn’t much,” said Driving Instructor, Mark Bromenschenkel. “This should show them that it is.”
Sure, a mannequin is not the same weight as a real person. The physics are not the same, but the demonstration showed the impacts of different speeds - 25 mph vs. 35 mph.
At 25 mph, the car catapulted the crash dummy a good 80 feet after impact. At 35 mph, the mannequin sails higher and much farther, 96.3 feet.
According to safety experts, a person hit at 35 mph is three times as likely to be killed versus 25 miles an hour.
“Chances of surviving that are going to be slim, I think,” said Bromenschenkel.
The type of vehicle involved also makes a difference.
Studies show pedestrians are more likely to die if they get hit by an SUV than a car.
“They’re going to put more trauma to a pedestrian body, higher up, closer to their torso and head than you would in a normal sedan where that impact is likely to strike closer to their legs,” Morris said.
LOWERING SPEED LIMITS
In an effort to make streets safer for pedestrians, many cities including New York, Boston, and Seattle, have lowered speed limits in urban areas. Neighboring states like Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota all have 25 as the standard.
Minneapolis and St. Paul want to do the same thing, but they need legislative approval to go from the current state mandated 30 mph in residential areas to 25. There is legislation pending at the State Capitol; however, lawmakers will not vote on it until the special session takes place.
According to AAA, 13 percent of pedestrians will die or suffer a severe injury if hit by a vehicle at 20 mph. About 40 percent of pedestrians will die or suffer a severe injury if hit by a vehicle at 30 mph, and 73 percent of pedestrians will die or suffer a severe injury if hit by a vehicle at 40 mph.