UMass Talks Pedestrian Safety

2 Mar
Early in the morning on Sunday, February 19, 20 year-old University of Massachusetts student Brandan Wall was struck by a moving vehicle. The accident took place on North Pleasant Street in the crosswalk next the Fine Arts Center. The Umass Daily Collegian broke the story in their February 22 edition of the newspaper. The accident has raised student awareness of pedestrian safety on campus.

Almost two weeks after accident, Wall is slowly recovering. When we caught up with him in his dorm room Tuesday night, he was moving slowly. A pair of crutches leaned against the wall and a spirometer sat on his desk. We asked him how he felt about pedestrian protection on campus. As he shooed us out he said in a tired voice,
“I think it needs to be a more prominent concern, the fact that there are so many crosswalks around campus, cars don’t give enough diligence to pedestrian safety.”

According to Massachusetts’s law, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. The law states that a ticket may be given to a driver who does not stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This is true unless the car has a green light, or the pedestrian is crossing the other side of the road. Despite the confusing legal details, the University abides by the state law.

While students are beginning to take note of crosswalk safety, the UMass Police Department policy remains unchanged. The department encourages the people on campus to stay on the sidewalk and out of the street. They also suggest that pedestrians wear clothing that allows them to be seen by oncoming traffic. Soon after the accident the UMPD issued a safety bulletin to help ensure student safety. The bulletin underlined the same basic points:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk –  If there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the road, always walk FACING traffic, so you can see any dangerous-driving cars heading towards you. This is also a good precaution to take if the driver does not see you.
  • Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you during the daytime. At night, wear special reflective material on your shoes, cap, or jacket to reflect the headlights of cars coming towards you.
  • Tips for crossing the street:
    • Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks.
    • Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road.
    • Stop and look left, then right, then left again, before you step into the street.
    • If you see a car, wait until it goes by or stops. Then look left, right and left again until no cars are coming.

The majority of students we spoke to agreed that crosswalk safety has been an ongoing issue campus since before the accident. The UMPD has been sponsoring a pedestrian safety campaign this year. Driver safety posters have up around campus and on PVTA buses since the fall. The ads show the point of view of a driver on their cell phone about to strike a student in the crosswalk with the words “R u ready 2 stop?” They also put together this great video.

Post by Melissa Gately, Tyler Manoukian, and Remy Schwartz


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