Warm January weather possibly a factor in deadly pedestrian crashes

This year is starting with an unusual amount of deadly pedestrian crashes in the Twin Cities metro and the unusually warm January weather could be playing a role.

“Had it been a typical, January subzero Minnesota day, she wouldn’t have walked out that door by herself at all, she would have waited for dad,” said Tesfaye Aschenaki, whose mother was killed in a pedestrian crash in Inver Grove Heights over the weekend.

Figures collected by the Department of Public Safety show January is usually a lower incident month when it comes to pedestrian crashes. In 2017, January ranked 7th in total number of pedestrian crashes. The most dangerous months were September and October.

This January, however, is already proving to be a deadly one. So far, there have been four pedestrian fatalities in Minnesota. At this time last year, there was none. 

“Obviously the weather is warmer, it is still dark outside, people are outside walking,” said Commander Jeremy Ellison with the St. Paul Police Department. “We’re seeing an increase in crashes due to those conditions.”

Commander Ellison has made pedestrian safety his focus for the last four years. He is the police liaison for the Stop For Me campaign and the grant coordinator for Towards Zero Deaths.

“If they don’t see pedestrians out in January and February and March, you know, typically until it gets warmer, they stop necessarily looking for them on a regular basis,” he said.

Mix all that with an early sunset and you have a recipe for more crashes.

“When there’s adverse conditions like bad lighting or darkness, we just need to be able to give drivers that much more time to slow down and stop,” said Commander Ellison. “People should be able to be out and walk around their community and be safe.”