Safety tips offered for pedestrians, drivers on campus

September 23, 2010

In light of recent incidents on and near campus between pedestrians and vehicles, Mark Kebert, the University’s risk manager, is offering his top 10 safety suggestions for pedestrians and drivers on campus.

The safety of everyone at Purdue -- students, faculty, staff, volunteers and visitors -- is of highest priority, Kebert says, and it calls for everyone's efforts. The University has made the following initiatives focusing on the "three e's" of engineering, education and enforcement:

* Engineering -- Enhanced crosswalks with signage and pavement markings.

* Education -- Use of media outlets including Purdue Today; deployment of pedestrian safety advocates at key crosswalks.

* Enforcement -- Patrols and citations to enforce crosswalk laws for drivers and pedestrians, and the 20 mph speed limit across most of the campus.

"Engineering and enforcement are good things," Kebert says. "However, they can go only so far. Safety education and personal responsibility for safety really make a difference in preventing accidents."  To promote education and awareness, he is providing the following two lists of tips:

Pedestrian safety suggestions

* Remove your iPod ear buds and maintain visual contact with vehicle traffic around you (your safety can be significantly impaired if you inhibit any one of your senses while you are walking near vehicle traffic).

* Do not use your cell phone or text while you are walking near traffic (being inattentive can prove to be very hazardous).

* Obey traffic signs and cross at properly marked crosswalks (that is what drivers expect you to do and that is where you may be more visible to them).

* When waiting to cross a street, stand behind the curb, not on it.

* Look both ways and make sure you have eye contact with drivers before you cross the street. Never assume that if you turn your back to a vehicle, the driver will see you and yield to your position in the street.

* Be extra cautious when it is raining and when it is dark if you are wearing dark-colored clothing. Under these conditions, your visibility to the driver is diminished significantly. Avoid wearing only dark colors in such conditions.

* When you begin to cross the street at the new crosswalks that require drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians, do not assume vehicles in the second lane are aware you are in the crosswalk. Proceed carefully and make sure all lanes of traffic are stopping as you proceed.

* Do not leave the sidewalk in favor of the street when the walkway is congested. Drivers don’t expect you to be in the street.

* Do not engage in horseplay near any vehicle traffic.

* Do not enter the street to stand on the center line to await the traffic to clear on the other side of the road. When you do this, drivers cannot always see you.

Driver safety suggestions

* Do not use your cell phone or any other electronic device while driving. This also means never text while driving.

* Slow down. Observe posted speed limits.

* Be patient and observant. Bicyclists and pedestrians are not the enemy; impatience is.

* Remember pedestrians have the right of way at all crosswalks.

* Watch out for bicyclists riding without lights and for pedestrians wearing black or dark-colored clothing at night.

* Pass bicyclists slowly and cautiously using at least a three-foot clearance.

* Be aware that if you are driving on University business, you are bound by the University’s vehicle use policy. That policy calls for operating the vehicle in a safe and courteous manner at all times and in compliance with all applicable laws and Purdue policies (http://www.purdue.edu/policies/pages/facilities_lands/i_2_1.shtml ).

* Be aware that pedestrians with cell phones in their hands and or ear buds in their ears have severely compromised their senses. They may not be aware of your presence and may step out in front of you. If they are not looking at you, they probably don’t know your vehicle is present.

* Progress very slowly and cautiously when you notice the sidewalk is very congested or near construction zones. Pedestrians may step out into the street in these areas or be pushed out into the street by other pedestrian traffic on the walkway.

* Be cognizant that law enforcement on and around campus is enforcing the law and posted speed limits. If you don’t follow the law, you will be cited.