Look Both Ways & Pay Attention!

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45 Morgantown residents were surveyed about pedestrian safety. Of those surveyed, only four percent indicated that they always use a crosswalk when crossing the street. Only 50 percent reported using a crosswalk often.

Looking both ways before you cross the street is something your parents teach you when you first begin to walk. Common sense for an adult right? Wrong.

Today we are faced with so many distractions that we often forget simple things such as looking both ways before crossing the street. In the next 24 hours, more than 460 people will be treated in an emergency room for traffic-related pedestrian injuries. In the 2 hours, on average, one pedestrian will die from injuries in a traffic crash.

There have been a couple of hit and runs in Morgantown since the WVU semester has started. The last reported incident of someone being hit or nearly hit by a car on WVU’s campus happened just a little over a week ago on October 25, 2013. Several others have gone unreported.

Unfortunately, some of these accidents have been fatal. Most recently in September, a WVU engineering student from Harper’s Ferry was struck on Patteson Drive. The accident was fatal.

Kelsey Pape, a former WVU student, has been a victim of a hit and run. She never reported her accident, but said it made her more careful as a pedestrian and a driver.

“I was a sophomore, and I had just walked out of Barnes and Noble by the Mountainlair with my coffee,” explained Pape. “My class was in Oglebay Hall, so I waited to cross the street as a couple cars went by. When I thought the coast was clear, I started to cross the street. Someone suddenly pulled out of the Mountainlair parking garage rather quickly, thinking he would stop, I kept walking. He didn’t stop though. He was looking down and texting. He was probably going ten to 15 miles per hour when he hit me. It wasn’t enough to hospitalize me, but it was enough to make me fly back a couple of feet into the middle of the road, get bad road rash, and be completely bruised from the hip down. He looked more shaken than I was.

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Survey results indicate that the majority of pedestrians have divided attention when crossing the street. Nearly 72 percent of respondents reported listening to music while crossing the street which means they likely cannot hear what’s going on around them. Additionally, 65 percent of respondents reported texting while crossing the street, and 77 percent reported talking on the phone while crossing the street.

I recently distributed a pedestrian survey to 45 Morgantown residents; of those surveyed,  40 people reported that they text, talk on the phone, or listen to music while they’re walking which means they’re full attention is not focused on the sights and sounds of the road.

Pape says her experience has made her pay more attention when driving and when crossing the street. She acknowledges that the driver isn’t the only one who has to pay attention.

“Pedestrians need to realize just because they’re holding some books or wearing a backpack doesn’t mean they don’t have to look both ways,” said Pape. “It’s something we are taught when we are little kids. Look left and right, and wait until the coast is clear and even wait a few more seconds after that. You have to pay attention as much as the driver does. As a driver now, especially when I’m driving through campus, I always drive five miles per hour if that just because I know some students cross without even looking. They also pop up out of places drivers can’t necessarily see.”

Pape says she hopes laws such as the new texting and driving and talking while driving law will help prevent such accidents as the one she had during her college days. Most importantly, she says she hopes people learn to just simply pay attention.

City officials and university police agree many accidents can be avoided by simply paying attention. They offer a few tips on how you should approach crossing the street. While these tips may seem like common sense, it’s often these things that people forget:

  • Find a crosswalk and look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Make eye contact with the driver or bicyclist before crossing.
  • Don’t text or talk while crossing the street.
  • Turn off music before crossing so you can hear oncoming traffic.
  • Dress to be seen. If it’s dark outside and you have to walk, avoid dark colors.

Remember, as a pedestrian or as a driver paying attention is crucial to avoiding serious or fatal accidents. Most accidents tend to happen at night and on WVU’s downtown campus between class changes.

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University police say simply paying attention could save your life, or at least save you from serious injuries when crossing the street.

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7 thoughts on “Look Both Ways & Pay Attention!

  1. This is a good article because there have been so many problems recently with hit and runs. I wonder if the most recent one was because the driver was drunk though. That might be something to add to this article: always pay attention even if you’re not the driver, because there are a decent amount of drunk drivers on any given night in Morgantown, unfortunately.

  2. I wondered that myself Emiily. When I was looking through the university police reports I felt like I came across at least one DUI from every day in October, and some days had multiple ones. I think this is something worth looking into–especially because like you said, unfortunately it happens almost daily here.

  3. I like the thoroughness of this post. It would be easy to just connect to statistics accumulated by others, but you accumulated your own as well and incorporated them into easy to follow info graphics.

  4. I have to admit to being terrible with adhering to crosswalks. I think you can probably look down High Street at any point when it is somewhat busy and you’ll see students leisurely crossing the road at random places. It’s a problem that is more subtle than it should be. Jaywalking isn’t a problem most of the time, but I remember stressing out multiple times while driving when a student steps out in front of my car at an awkward time.

    I also think this post is great because it doesn’t just stand on one leg. You don’t just rely on links, passing the conversation off, but you deepen it with graphs. The survey and the interview, as well as all the other research you put into this, is impressive.

  5. I think that many students take the idea of ‘pedestrians have the right-of-way’ a little too far in Morgantown. I won’t lie, I’m one of them. Most of us walk around campus with headphones in while we are texting or scrolling through Twitter timelines, and this can obviously get us into trouble. Not going to lie, I’ve fallen down stairs on campus while texting (yes, you can laugh).

    Anyway, I really appreciate how much effort you put into this post. You went the extra step to conduct your own research and that shows within the high quality of the post. Great work!

  6. This post was so different and added a whole different angle to the type of stories your blog writes about. I love the use of graphs for polling, and even bullet points to change up the way your readers get information. I’m really appreciating how much everyone is starting to incorporate tweets into their blogs. It’s something that is making me more aware of how I should be doing it as well.

  7. Good integration of multiple channels of information: Facts, stats, interviews, and some nice surveying of your own design. The one thing you’re lacking is some urgency; well, that’s not quite the right word, but the piece lacks a current news peg on which to hang. Why does this story matter right NOW? Without an angle, it takes on that “eat your vegetables” character, which is a shame because it’s good reporting and information. For example, has there been a recent incident, or some other cause to push this into our consciousness? You do not need to be deceptive or turn it into clickbait, but you should always find a way to show why a story is timely and necessary.

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