Not having enough parking spaces on campus has always been a problem. For the campus community, alternate methods of transportation such as walking or bicycling is an absolute must; however, alternate methods of travel can lead to unsafe and dangerous situations if safety and awareness issues are not considered.
In traffic accidents involving fatalities, pedestrians and bicyclists rank second as the largest category. The first being motor vehicle occupants. It is estimated that 20% of the total annual highway death toll are pedestrians and cyclists.
Pedestrians and cyclists often ignore vehicle code provisions enacted for their safety. The term “Jaywalk” is commonly used to describe the crossing of a street carelessly and dangerously so as to be endangered by motor vehicle traffic. Pedestrian traffic regulations are primarily for the protection of the pedestrian, for the purpose of correcting dangerous walking habits and reducing the number of accidents involving pedestrians. Pedestrians must be extremely careful and cautious when crossing roadways.
In my experience I have witnessed pedestrians who seem quite proud of their jaywalking skills and are more than willing to match their own agility and quickness against traffic hazards. Many drivers treat jaywalking attempts as a challenge to test their own driving skills and make every attempt to prevent the jaywalker from successfully completing his crossing. Yes, pedestrians do have the right-of-way, but they must also respect and obey pedestrian traffic regulations.
As the popularity of bicycling increases, so does the fatality and injury rate. The U.S. Dept of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have evaluated reports from many states involving pedestrian and bicycle accidents. NHTSA identified these seven as the most common accident situations involving pedestrian/cyclists and motor vehicles:
- Dartout: The ped or cyclist is exposed only a short time to the driver not at an intersection.
- Intersection Dash: The ped or cyclist tries to make a quick crossing at or near an intersection.
- Attention conflict: The driver of a turning vehicle concentrates attention on traffic in one direction and strikes a ped or cyclist approaching from the other direction.
- Multiple threat : The driver’s view of a pedestrian is blocked by other cars stopped to give the pedestrians the right of way.
- Bus Stop Related: The ped is struck by a vehicle after stepping out from in front of a stopped bus.
- Vendor-ice cream Truck: The pedestrian is struck going to or from a street vendor of ice cream.
- Backing Up: The driver fails to detect the pedestrian or cyclist when backing up.
Many cyclists seem to forget that when they ride on a highway or roadway, many states require the cyclist to obey and follow all rules of the road, the same as a motor vehicle.
Physical separation between pedestrians and motor vehicles are becoming more necessary. Things such as overpasses, underpasses, skyways, pedestrian malls and roadway designs are just a few examples. In the case of Salisbury University, the underpass tunnel that extends across route 13 is an example of reducing the contact between pedestrian and motor vehicle.
Whether you walk to and from school, or ride a bike, keep in mind these four simple safety tips:
- Be cautious / be aware of your surroundings
- Obey any pedestrian traffic regulations
- Don’t anticipate what you think a driver will or will not do.
- Use common sense
With the continued parking problem that we face on campus, walking or riding a bike becomes inevitable; however, taking precautions and safety measures can possibly prevent injury or even save your life.