December 2, 2019

Task force to study dangers of personal vehicle use on Purdue campus

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has announced the creation of a campuswide task force to address the extreme safety issues caused by personal electric vehicles (PEVs) such as powered skateboards and electric scooters on campus and to propose new protections and policies and whether those should be extended to non-powered transportation like bicycles and traditional skateboards.  

The task force will examine existing regulations and how and whether those should be expanded to add speed limits, restrictions on hours of operation, helmet requirements or a total PEV ban from campus or areas of campus.

“While I know alternative transportation has its place, the problem is our environment is not very conducive to mixing all of them together with pedestrians and motor vehicles,” said John Cox, Purdue University police chief. “Our numbers show that electric skateboards are the most dangerous of these alternative transportation modes that we have on our campus.”

More than a dozen serious personal injury accidents have been reported to Purdue University police since the beginning of the school year, with some requiring hospitalization due to critical injuries to students or faculty.

“We had a student require surgery just a few weeks ago after a near-fatal incident on an electric skateboard,” Daniels said. “If action is needed to make campus safer, we need to take it before anyone else is hurt.”

Countless other accidents are believed to occur on a daily or weekly basis but are not reported to university police.

“There’s not been a week go by that we haven’t had a report of an injury,” said Kevin Ply, Purdue University fire chief. “We also receive complaints each week about near-misses and the speeds at which people are riding.”

The task force will be co-chaired by Carol Shelby, senior director of environmental health and public safety, and student trustee Noah Scott and will include students and faculty, members of the Purdue police and fire departments, administrative operations staff, and the city of West Lafayette. It will build upon work being done by an ad hoc committee of the University Senate that is working to improve the communication and understanding of existing rules and policies related to on-campus transportation. 

Writer: Tim Doty, 765-496-2571, doty2@purdue.edu 

Sources: Carol Shelby, cshelby@purdue.edu

John Cox, 765-494-8221, jkcox@purdue.edu

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