The safety of pedestrians is at high-risk on and around the University, and it’s time that action is taken to end the accident epidemic.
More than 41 pedestrians were hit by vehicles on or close to campus in the last five years in more than 38 accidents, according to a 2018 report from the Manship Statehouse Bureau.
On July 16, 19-year-old biological engineering sophomore Sarah James died after being struck by an SUV while crossing Nicholson Drive near Tigerland.
The fatal incident inspired former University student, Nikki Genova to create a petition on Change.org, encouraging the installment of streetlights on Nicholson and East Boyd Drives. The petition received more than 7,000 signatures.
The lack of lighting and crosswalks are primary reasons pedestrians are hit by vehicles near Tigerland at night.
Streetlights, sidewalks and crosswalks are very beneficial, but these safety nets can’t save every pedestrian from getting hit.
Last fall, a car hit a sophomore on Ag Center Drive on the first day of school. The car struck the student from behind and caused her to fly seven feet through the air. The sophomore had a severe hemorrhage on her back.
The driver who hit the sophomore said her vision had been blocked by a turning car. She was not ticketed.
Mari Dehrab, 23, was standing on the sidewalk when a car crashed into her and three other pedestrians at the intersection of Nicholson and Skip Bertman Drives. It was only five days into the semester last fall.
Dehrab suffered a brain tear. The other pedestrians had concussions. One of the other two pedestrians also had a broken pelvis and sacrum along with some brain bleeding.
Mechanical engineering student Kurtis Johnson almost lost half his vision after a car struck him on South Stadium Drive in 2017. He was in a lot of pain, but refused to visit the hospital because he didn’t have health insurance.
Johnson decided to visit a hospital the next day and learned he had a broken cheek bone. Doctors told him he would’ve been blind in his right eye if he waited longer to seek medical attention.
South Campus and Dalrymple Drives have the most collisions involving pedestrians, with four at each corner, according to accident reports in the last five years from LSUPD.
Seventeen accidents occurred along major roads like Highland and Nicholson, while 21 accidents happened on streets and parking lots inside campus grounds. Some students said they have not seen campus police promoting better caution.
Most drivers were ticketed in accidents with moderate or serious injuries, but five accidents were hit and runs.
The University and the campus police must do more than bring awareness to this accumulating catastrophe. It’s necessary they try, along with pedestrians and drivers, to help solve it.
The University can create mandatory sessions for students, faculty and staff in which they learn precautions to prevent getting hit by vehicles, but pedestrians are not always in the wrong. There is not just one specific group to blame.
The University has no choice but to create strict rules and regulations for pedestrians and drivers to follow during school hours to reduce accidents.
Phone restriction while crossing the street should be a universal rule for pedestrians to follow.
Tickets are plausible, but they don’t solve the problem. Drivers who are in the wrong should not only get ticketed but also contribute their time to the University as a form of punishment. For example, a faulted driver can be required to pick up trash around campus. The length of time depends on the injuries of the victim.
A student who disobeys pedestrian rules can have a school privilege taken away. This can be anything such as not being able to attend campus athletic events for a month.
Campus police must direct traffic around campus throughout the day during school hours. This will persuade both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and follow the University’s rules and regulations.
Names and pictures should be taken for records. Cameras need to be installed to catch drivers involved in hit and runs.
Whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver, please be vigilant at all times because you can save your life and somebody else’s as well.
Jasmine Edmonson is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Denham Springs, Louisiana.