MTD finally improves training process

By Staff Editorial

When it comes to pedestrian safety, there may be hope for the MTD after all.

A total of 180 old and new Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus drivers will be receiving up to 16 hours of training with an emphasis on driving defensively. The training will use methods and procedures from The Smith System, a training program that has been used in the trucking industry and on numerous other college campuses. The effort marks the first time seasoned drivers will receive continued training; previously, retraining only consisted of winter driving discussions.

These efforts for added safety are largely in response to student deaths and other accidents that occurred on MTD bus routes on campus. But we have to ask why this training was not implemented immediately after the death of Carolyn Jeffers more than a year ago.

Many efforts have been made to promote and improve campus safety, though most have been ineffective. The “LiveUp” campaign, offering free MP3s with public service announcements, went largely ignored while crosswalk markings urging students to “look” gave students one more distraction.

The implementation of continued training for MTD drivers is the first truly proactive step that has been taken by the Campaign-Urbana community toward pedestrian safety. And it is about time.

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In truth, there are numerous conditions that factor into traffic and pedestrian safety that the MTD must address before they can say they have made our campus safer. The way MTD drivers choose their routes may have a significant influence on their ability to drive defensively in frequently crowded streets. Drivers with seniority at the MTD get first pick in choosing bus routes and consequently choose routes that avoid campus, leaving less experienced drivers to deal with busy, complex routes and the intense movement of students on the streets.

The University could take a more active step as well to alert new students to the problem of pedestrians. Programs to inform incoming freshmen about these dangers at freshman orientation could help students move through the campus area more safely and help the drivers commute around campus as well.

Regardless of the MTD or any other program’s efforts to improve campus safety, pedestrians hold a responsibility to themselves to travel safely through the University and its roads. At the end of the day, the pedestrian’s safety, not the driver’s, is the one at stake. When our parents told us when we were children to look both ways before crossing the street, it was meant to be a lesson for life.