Student Struck by Car

Tiger Stadium stands tall from the parking lot on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, on Skip Bertman Drive in Baton Rouge, La.

As I walk between classes or to Barnes and Noble, I notice all of the people crossing streets and all of the cars driving around. Although I have music in my ears, I stay aware of my surroundings, especially on the crosswalks or near streets. 

Pedestrian safety is a big focus in many cities. According to a July 2022 report from an urban policy group, Baton Rouge is the 11th deadliest U.S. metro for pedestrians. 

Since September, there have been three pedestrian-involved accidents in Baton Rouge, two of which took place near campus and one of which led to the death of the pedestrian, according to reporting by WBRZ, WAFB and BRPROUD.

After speaking with Bart Thompson, chief of the LSU Police Department, I've realized the university does a lot to keep pedestrians safe, and while there's always room for improvement, a lot of issues lay in the hands of pedestrians and motorists. 

“There’s always more [that can be done], but it’s a two-way street. It’s the fact that our students and our faculty and staff also need to understand that pedestrians are involved in our traffic,” Thompson said.

Thompson said some pedestrians enter crosswalks without yielding, but they should pause “to make sure that the vehicle is abiding by and sees you in that crosswalk.” 

Another issue is motorists not paying attention, he said. An example he gave was when there's a green light, but the car is turning right, there would also be a pedestrian walk signal, so the car should be yielding. 

LSUPD alone can't control all of these factors, so while it does its part, pedestrians need to do their part.  

One big part of pedestrian safety is education. Thompson says that LSUPD educates students during every orientation about pedestrian and campus safety. 

“Anytime we are able to meet with a group about safety, pedestrian safety is one of the pieces," he said.

The university addressed the issue of dark areas on campus by putting up 25 temporary light trailers around commuter parking and on the main campus, Thompson said. This improvement is especially beneficial to pedestrians who may not be seen in these darker areas and are therefore in greater danger of being hit. 

He adds that one thing the university could improve upon is ensuring that, during road work, crosswalks are lined and there are handicap ramps. 

Education on pedestrian and bike safety can also be found on the LSUPD website. Along with education, LSUPD has campaigns to influence pedestrians. 

Thompson said in 2013 the LSUPD began a “zombie campaign” focused on the recent release of the movie World War Z and comparing pedestrians glued to their phones to “zombies." According to contemporary reporting by The Reveille, the campaign began after a few pedestrian accidents on campus.

“Don’t be a zombie, pay attention to where you are and where you’re walking." the campaign said, according to Thompson.

As someone on campus nearly every day, I've seen firsthand the issue of pedestrians and drivers being focused on their phones instead of the road. I've also heard multiple peers bring up the topic of everyone on campus staring at their phones at all times. 

Seeing as it's such a prominent issue, noticed by faculty, staff and students, it's time for pedestrians and drivers to take more accountability. 

Drivers shouldn't be on their phones, especially in areas with pedestrian crossings. Nothing is more important than people’s lives, so just wait to check your phone until you're parked.

Pedestrians also need to pay attention when walking near streets and crosswalks. While most have music playing, it shouldn’t be so loud that you can’t hear what is going on around you. 

With accountability from pedestrians and drivers, many of the issues causing accidents can be solved. 

Pay attention to your surroundings and stay off your phone. Those simple tenants will keep you and others safe. 

Kate Beske is a journalism sophomore from Destrehan.

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