4  Reduce crashes and improve safety and security

Reduce fatal and serious injury crashes and improve safety and security for all modes of passenger travel and freight transport.

4.1 Perception of Safety When Walking and Bicycling

metro region respondents to MnDOT’s public opinion survey are asked to rate perceptions of safety for bicycling and walking in their communities using a four point scale - 1 corresponds to a perception that bicycling and walking is not at all safe and 4 corresponds to a perception that bicycling and walking is very safe. MnDOT tracks the percentage of respondents who perceive their environment as safe by totaling those who respond with 3 (somewhat safe) or 4 (very safe). The survey is typically done every two years.

Figure 4.1 shows how people’s responses to the question How safe do you think your community is for walking (or using a wheelchair or personal mobility device)? over time. In recent years, the amount of people who felt not very safe or not at all safe has increased. For instance, those who felt not at all safe increased from 2% in 2015 to 4% in 2019.

Figure 4.1: Perceptions of safety when walking

Perception of safety while biking increases over time 1

Figure 4.2: Perceptions of safety when biking

4.2 Transit safety

Transit providers track and report on multiple aspects of safety to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). In general, transit is a very safe mode of travel both for people using it and for other transportation system users like automobile drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. There were no fatalities reported involving any of the regional transit providers in 2022. Other measures of safety such as injuries are also very low, especially when compared to the number and rate of injuries from other traffic-related crashes.

Transit agencies also track and report to the FTA on aspects of safety other than crashes including the broader category of safety events and the frequency of major mechanical issues that affect delivery of transit service. Metro transit bus service had a safety event rate of less than 1 for every 25,000 vehicle revenue miles (VRM) provided. Mechanical issues affecting Metro Transit bus service occurred on average per every 7,731 miles of service provided.

Table 4.1: Transit safety by mode and provider
Mode Fatalities (Total) Fatalities (Rate) Injuries (Total) Injuries (Rate) Safety Events (Total) Safety Events (Rate) System Reliability
Metro Transit
Bus 0 0/100k VRM 175 N/A N/A 3.8/100k VRM 7,731 VRM/Failures
Light rail 0 0/100k VRM 145 N/A N/A 0.6/100k VRM 25,000 VRM/Failures
Metropolitan Council
Bus 0 0/100k VRM 3 0.097/100k VRM 50 1.47/100k VRM 26,154 VRM/Failures
Demand response 0 0/100k VRM 50 0.19/100k VRM 45 0.17/100k VRM 57,777 VRM/Failures
Vanpool 0 0/100k VRM 0 0/100k VRM 0 0 0
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority
Bus 0 0/100k VRM 8 0.236 / 100k VRM 11.6 0.326 / 100k VRM 9,000 VRM/Failures
SouthWest Transit
Bus 0 0/100k VRM 1 1/100k VRM 2 1/100k VRM 25,000 VRM/Failures
Demand response 0 0/100k VRM 1 1/100k VRM 1 1/100k VRM 53,000 VRM/Failures
a Metro Transit reports only total annual injuries
Source: Individual transit provider reports, compiled. 2022

4.3 Status of At-Grade Rail/Roadway Crossing Safety Features

There are currently 1,283 railroad crossings along 4,534 miles of track in the metropolitan region. The status of these roadway or pedestrian-only crossings has implications for the efficiency and safety of the region’s rail and highway systems. Figure 4.3 shows rail-highway crossing safety feature data for the region. In the metro area approximately 29%of all rail crossings have a bridge overpass or tunnel underpass providing unimpeded and protected vehicle and/or pedestrian traffic along the roadway. Of the remaining 912 crossings without a bridge or underpass, only about 47% have active crossing warning devices that include gates, cantilevers, and flashing light signals. Nearly 38%% of all crossings in the region (483 in total) have only passive warning signs.

Figure 4.3: Metropolitan area rail system crossings by status. Source: MnDOT Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations.

4.4 Traffic Fatalities and Injuries

4.4.1 Fatalities

The region supports the state goal of working toward zero deaths or serious injuries from traffic crashes. No one should die or be seriously injured while traveling in their daily lives, regardless which mode they use. Tracking crash data information is an important tool in evaluating how we are doing as a region in making progress toward this goal. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Transportation Safety, between 2017 and 2021, there were 1,985 total traffic fatalities in Minnesota, 699 of which occurred in the region. Twin Cities traffic fatalities make up 35% of the state traffic fatalities.

Figure 4.4: Number of people killed by drivers each year, 2017-2021, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide. Source: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering

Although the region has 35% of all traffic fatalities, 59% of statewide pedestrian fatalities and 57% of statewide bicyclist fatalities occurred within the region between 2017 and 2021.

Of all traffic deaths in the region during this time, 20% were pedestrians.

Of these 699 traffic fatalities in the region, 140 were pedestrian fatalities and 24 were bicyclist fatalities.

In addition, 590 pedestrian serious injuries and 195 bicyclist serious injuries occurred in the region.


Pedestrian fatalities are a disproportionately larger percentage of the region’s traffic deaths. The numbers are not as disproportionate for bicyclists in the region but remain a concern as more vulnerable users of our transportation system.

4.4.2 Serious Injuries

Safety planning focuses on reducing the most severe types of crashes, those in which someone is killed or is seriously injured. While serious injuries had been decreasing, the numbers of people suffering serious injuries from traffic crashes increased in 2021.

Figure 4.5: Number of people seriously injured by drivers per year, 2017-2021, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide. Source: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering

4.4.3 Financial crash costs

While no costs can ever truly reflect the emotional loss of losing a loved one in a traffic crash, there are comprehensive costs estimated related to crashes. Comprehensive costs include both financial impacts such as medical services, insurance claims processing, and legal fees, as well as estimates of the intangible effects from diminished quality of life following injury crashes. Using comprehensive costs for traffic crashes can help understand the economic impacts of crashes overall in addition to the human losses.

Learn more about per-crash comprehensive costs in Section C.1.

Figure 4.6: Average cost of fatal and serious injury crashes per year, 2017-2021, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide. Sources: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering (crash data) and Office of Transportation System Management (per crash comprehensive costs)

4.4.4 Fatal and Serious Injury Crash Rate

Crash rates are used to look at the numbers of people being killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes divided by the exposure people have by traveling. In these crash rates, the exposure used is per 100 million miles traveled in vehicles. Both the fatality and serious injury crash rates have increased.

Figure 4.7: Number of disabling crash injuries per 100 million miles traveled, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide, 2017-2021. Source: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering

Figure 4.8: Number of people killed per 100 million miles traveled, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide, 2017-2021. Source: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering

4.4.5 Safety of Pedestrians and Bicyclists

People who are walking or biking are the most vulnerable travelers in our transportation system. In 2021, more people using these modes were seriously injured. Increases in the number of people walking and bicycling can help improve safety by creating greater visibility and driver awareness. Research has shown that as more people bike and walk, crash rates tend to decline. However, more work is needed to create a safer system to support people walking and biking in our region and reverse the increases in these serious injuries.

Figure 4.9: Number of crashes that kill or seriously injure bikers or pedestrians per year, 2017-2021, for the Twin Cities MPO and statewide. Source: MnDOT Office of Traffic Engineering

  1. “How safe do you think your community is for bicycling?” was not asked in the 2015 survey. 2012 responses to this question were inconsistent and so omitted from this plot.↩︎