Pedestrian awareness key to safety

Ben Breier

Students pass through the end of the esplanade by Van Deusen Hall yesterday between classes.BRIAN MARKS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Gina Selent said she hopes to never cross an intersection on foot ever again.

Selent, a senior fashion merchandising major, was crossing Main Street going toward Rockwell Hall after eating dinner at Chipotle.

As Selent progressed through the crosswalk, a student driving a gray Chevrolet Cavalier turned left through the intersection. As the car hit Selent, she was thrown into the air and landed on the pavement, suffering a broken wrist and a fractured elbow.

“I don’t think much can go through your head when that happens,” she said. “Nothing can really prepare you for something like this.”

Selent said the driver of the car was late for class and wasn’t paying attention when the accident happened last September.

“We didn’t do anything wrong —ÿwe were on the crosswalk and we didn’t dart in front of traffic,” Selent said. “Even when the sign says ‘walk,’ be aware of your surroundings.”

According to the U.S Department of Transportation, 7,000 pedestrians die each year and 100,000 are injured in traffic crashes.

Officer Alice Ickes said drivers have a lot going on while they’re behind the wheel —ÿbut it’s definitely a shared responsibility between the driver and the pedestrian.

“Young people — especially students —ÿare less concerned than they should be,” she said.

Ickes attributed this to the fact that many young people are currently enveloped in a life attitude where they believe they are invincible, and crossing the street safely isn’t always a priority.

And while there hasn’t been a large concentration of campus accidents like Selent’s, Ickes thinks that for every accident the police department does hear about, there are several close calls that go unnoticed.

Ickes said pedestrians can do one thing to make sure they won’t be involved in an accident —ÿmake eye contact with the driver of the car.

“If you make eye contact with the driver, you have great assurance that they are aware of your presence,” she said.

She added that pedestrians should take special notice at intersections where drivers can turn on red, as drivers will oftentimes be fixated on the traffic light and unaware of any surrounding pedestrian traffic.

William Lillich, Kent director of public safety, said the city installed islands on East Main Street to allow a halfway point for pedestrians crossing the street. Lillich believes the barriers have helped to provide safer crossing.

Lou Barberio, junior visual communication design major, said walkers and drivers alike are relatively accountable, but the burden of responsibility often falls on the driver.

“The basic attitude is that the car should watch out for the other person,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Ben Breier at [email protected].