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ETSU ups its warnings to pedestrians, motorists

Rex Barber • Jan 27, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Stop, look and listen is the message coming from East Tennessee State University to pedestrians and motorists on campus.

An increase in pedestrians being hit by vehicles at ETSU has prompted administrators to educate the campus about safety.

According to ETSU Public Safety Chief Jack Cotrel, six pedestrians have been struck by vehicles in the past few months on campus. The latest one happened Thursday night on Jack Vest Drive.

An ETSU crash report said a student was driving east when he struck another student who was walking along the road. The report said the pedestrian was wearing dark clothes and the area was not very well lit.

The pedestrian was taken to the hospital. The report indicated his injuries included bruises to his elbow, knee and over his eye.

Cotrel said fortunately the injuries to pedestrians on campus have not included anything other than bruises and abrasions. No broken bones have been reported.

Cotrel also said the school addressed road safety a few days ago by sending out a campus email informing the community of the crashes and offering safety tips.

“The only solution or the only thing we can do is educate and that’s the direction we’re trying to go,” Cotrel said of how to prevent future crashes.

For pedestrians, those tips included crossing the road legally by using crosswalks, paying attention to the surroundings by looking both ways before crossing the road and wearing light colors and reflective material at night.

The tips also included using a flashlight at night and never presuming a car will stop.

“A student who approaches a crosswalk can not assume a vehicle is going to stop for them,” Cotrel said.

For drivers, the tips included also being aware of the surroundings, driving slowly at crosswalks, slowing down if vision is obscured by weather or other factors, not passing vehicles stopped for pedestrians and looking twice before going forward.

There are lots of factors that contribute to a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle. Wearing dark clothing at night prevents motorists from clearly seeing a pedestrian. Bad weather can also limit a motorist or a pedestrian’s visibility. Inattentiveness is also a factor sometimes, Cotrel said.

In fact, using smartphones or music/audio devices with headphones is an increasing distraction for pedestrians, Cotrel said.

“That is an issue,” Cotrel said of mobile devices. “We’re trying to convince our community, think about what you’re doing.”

Cotrel said ETSU has tried to light as much of the campus as possible and is always evaluating if more lighting is needed. Additionally, there have been reflective yellow and red stop signs located at crosswalks across campus to alert motorist that a pedestrian crossing is near.

The main thing ETSU can do right now to help prevent campus crashes, though, is to educate, Cotrel said.

“There may be some cosmetic things we can look at doing in the future,” he said.

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