UPD reminds students of awareness after accident

Todd Kleiboer
The road between Phase 2 (not shown and to the left) and Phase 3 (to the right) where a student was struck by a vehicle Oct. 13.

Every day A&M-Commerce students walk across campus to get to classes, to work, or to meals as cars drive by, and regardless of awareness, at least once a year a car hits a student when crossing a street.

According to Lt. Jason Bone of the University Police Department, it is the most hazardous aspect of being a university pedestrian.

A female student was struck by a vehicle between Phase Two and Phase 3 on the morning of Oct. 13. She survived the impact with scrapes and bruises while the driver was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Although the accident was considered minor, the implications could have been fatal.

Johnny Espinoza, a student, saw the car seconds before the accident.

“I was expecting the car to swerve or slowdown,” he said. “By the time I yelled it was [only moments] before the collision. There was no time for her to react.”

According to Bone, there were a couple factors involving the incident. First, the time of year and the amount of sun impeding the vision of motorists. This means that the sun, unless it is a cloudy day, will be in a position that will hinder the sight of most drivers.

The student was also listening to music in her headphones, lowering her awareness to the surroundings, and this shortened the time between recognizing the danger and the accident.

“If you pay attention to your surroundings maybe you can hear that there is a car coming that may not possibly see you. Sometimes as a pedestrian you can do everything perfectly and still get hit. That’s why we call them accidents,” Bone said.

Last fall two students were hit by a car within months of each other. This prompted the university to install the Hawk Beacon which alerts vehicles to pedestrians. Bone says the university and police department normally convenes once a year to discuss these types of accidents and solutions to prevent future ones. Although it has been a year since the Hawk Beacon was installed, the department is still assessing its use.

Not everyone believes that it is solely the university’s job to ensure pedestrian safety. That particular role is shared between the pedestrians, the drivers, and the university.

“It is not the school’s responsibility but of the drivers themselves. They need to follow the rules of the road and be aware of their surroundings,” student Selam Orion said.