Pedestrian safety no laughing matter for students, local law enforcement

Pedestrian safety is one of the biggest concerns on campus. While acting as pedestrians, students should remember old rules most learned at a young age.

Morgan Johnston, University transportation coordinator, offered safety advice for everyone using roads on campus. She said pedestrians should always step back and look before they cross the street, bicyclists need to obey the rules of the road and motorists need to avoid distractions such as texting. Johnston said that the University has been one of the best universities in public safety. Johnston and those in charge of public safety on campus break it down into three parts: engineering, education and enforcement.

There are lots of different engineering efforts for safety around the University, including road markings and signs, and this semester on campus students may notice some new signs.

Approximately 50 new signs have been installed around campus replacing the old yellow signs indicating to yield to pedestrians with new white signs telling motorists to stop for pedestrians. A new Illinois law now requires cars to come to a full stop when people are in crosswalks without a stop light.

“Some drivers aren’t necessarily sure how to respond to pedestrians in a crosswalk,” Johnston said. “But drivers should stop if citizens have at least one foot established in the crosswalk and they have time to do it safely.”

Johnston also pointed out that pedestrians and bicyclists will be held accountable for jumping out into the crosswalk when vehicles have no time to stop safely. For students walking around campus Johnston offered basic advice.

“Stop, look and live. And don’t just assume the person in front of you has looked and follow the leader,” Johnston said.

Johnston said the University police’s public safety division has been amazingly helpful in teaching people the right way to be safe as well as strong in the enforcement of the laws.

University police Lt. Skip Frost is the leader of the public safety division and said University police will especially be on the lookout for students violating safety laws in the first couple of weeks of the semester.

“In the last twenty years there has been one homicide on campus while several people have died as pedestrians in vehicle related accidents,” Lt. Frost said.

Lt. Frost said also stressed the importance of looking both ways before students cross the street, eliminating distractions and never assuming everyone will stop for you when walking.

“The way I see it, you can either be right or … dead,” Lt. Frost said.