Editorial: Walk with your life in your hands

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We can prevent dangerous accidents from becoming deadly by wising up as students on a crowded campus. Randy Neilson/UVU Review

We are concerned that students are dangerously ignorant of jaywalking.

Last Monday, a student was life-flighted from in front of the Testing Center to the hospital. He had been struck by a car going 25 MPH while listening to music with headphones.

He now has a metal plate in his skull. He was the fourth accident in six months on our campus, and unless more students walk safely, he won’t be the last.

Campus police spent the first part of last week standing on 800 South stopping jaywalkers and warning them of the dangers of crossing lanes of traffic illegally. They spent the second part of the week issuing tickets.

We are grateful to the campus police for making us safe, but it is a shame that it is necessary to issue tickets to students who jaywalk harmfully.

As one officer put it on Tuesday, “We don’t like having to do this, but we need to protect students.” One might add, protecting us from ourselves should only be a small part of their job; we are old enough to be responsible without requiring law enforcement to literally hold our hands while crossing the street.

According to the Utah Code on pedestrian crossing (detailed below), it is technically not illegal to cross a street so long as one does not deliberately delay heavy oncoming traffic. According to Officer Rockwood, if a person impedes traffic, that is breaking the law – but if one does not impede traffic, it may be permissible.

What defines “impeding traffic” may depend largely on circumstance, but a definite pattern has emerged from four unfortunate recent incidents on 800 South and Campus Drive: The accidents occurred either in the morning or in the evening, during peak times of classes starting for the day and also times of difficult visibility along those roads.

It is important to remember we share our space with a neighboring high school, the Utah County Academy of Sciences, and that one UCAS student was recently involved in an accident – that student, however, was using the crosswalk.

Consequently, many UCAS students feel it may actually be safer to jaywalk. Student Jack Dalton said he felt drivers were more alert to unseen barriers and less likely to be distracted by texting if they were not stopping at a crosswalk. In fact, “I feel more likely to be hit on the crosswalk … I’ve had to jump out of a car’s way before.”

Drivers will often stop for pedestrians crossing in the middle of the road, but will actually try to beat pedestrians to a crosswalk, and therefore crosswalks can actually pose a greater risk to pedestrians. Unfortunately, the hospitalized teenager attending UCAS earlier last month is the proof this occurs.

We believe this inattentive and careless attitude towards driving can no longer be tolerated.

As student population continues to rise and parking continues to become insufferable, we must watch for each other. If you see people jaywalking in the morning or evening hours, encourage them to use the crosswalk – even if the crosswalk seems like a hundred feet away.

We do not believe it is always permissible to jaywalk. The language of the law implies more obligation on your part should you choose to jaywalk, and it is vital that demonstrate a responsible maturity by knowing the law. Do not impede traffic and be observant.

If you are driving, obey the law and yield for pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk or in the street. It’s common sense; you were tested on this knowledge when you received your license.

Innocent lives do not deserve to be endangered because of morning class tardiness.

If students do not walk and drive safely, then more young blood will be spilled on our campus streets and sidewalks – and it will be not just the fault of those involved, but all of us as a student community.

“Hopefully,” said Officer Rockwell, “twenty-year olds are fast learners.” At UVU Review, we hope so too.

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