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.
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.