Student government and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) are working to improve campus crosswalk safety.
Prior to the recent death of a student at a crosswalk, student government and DPS’ Traffic Safety Team (TST), that has been in effect since 2003, is releying on three E’s: engineering, education and enforcement.
The engineering portion of TST is seeking to add crosswalk sign upgrades, crosswalk speed bumps and strobes to display driver speeds in order to enforce campus speed limits. Morrison Street, next to Burger King, was also turned into a one-way street because of TST. Likewise, shrubberies in the medians have been added to discourage jay walking.
The jay walking tickets passed out at the beginning of the fall semester, although a nuisance to some students were intended to make students aware of the dangers, not reprimand them.
“These tickets weren’t actually tickets,” said Claire Gould, student government president. “They were actually educational fliers.”
Nearly 4,500 fliers were presented to both drivers and pedestrians. DPS cataloged their flier warnings as to not repeat their message to the same students, which helped with enforcing rules to more students.
Contrary to drivers’ opinions, the pedestrian generally has the right of way.
According to the Ferris State University Traffic Safety Team Laws and Ordinances, Section 7.2, Pedestrian right of way, crosswalk, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
However, according to the same ordinances no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle, which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
“Drivers and pedestrians need to realize that traffic rules apply to both parties,” said Gould. “The right of way depends on the situation.”
Issues of pedestrians crossing with headphones on or texting while they are crossing is also an area of investigation.
“We’re all adults and should be able to walk and multi-task,” said Gould. “People using these devices should be extra careful to look both ways before entering the road.”
TST recently installed pedestrian crosswalk signs at the corners of State and South Street and State and Ferris Drive.
In addition to enforcement of crosswalk rules, Eric Mundt, student government treasurer and campus affairs chair, is currently working to compile a report to assist administrators with crosswalk upgrades. The report will be similar to the campus affairs committee’s fall 2008 bike rack report.
Mundt, along with Morgan Toms and Sandra Winchell, student government campus affairs representatives, are photographing every crosswalk on campus to illustrate danger zones. The campus affairs committee will provide students the opportunity to suggest crosswalk improvements.
“We just want everyone to be safe and this report will show areas of need,” said Mundt. “We hope that this will keep all students safe whether they’re drivers or pedestrians.”
For more information about campus crosswalk safety and a list of TST ordinances, visit ferris.edu/htmls/othersrv/campussafety/.