Texting. Talking. Emailing. Tweeting. Changing songs on an mp3 player. Blasting music through headphones. All of these activities are par for the course for the average college student walking to and from class. Unfortunately, being distracted while walking alongside busy streets can be a recipe for disaster. Failing to pay attention to traffic signals, not hearing the honks of drivers passing by, jaywalking and stumbling off curbs into traffic can all get pedestrians injured or even killed.
When faced with data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proving that a whopping 319 pedestrians lost their lives in Connecticut in 2010, (the last year such data was available) – an increase of more than 40 percent from 2009 – the administrators of several notable Connecticut universities are banding together in an effort to prevent additional pedestrian deaths.
Why Focus on University Campuses?
Current university students are in the prime of the “distracting electronics” era. News stories and lawsuits brought on behalf of victims make it abundantly clear that distracted driving is a significant problem, but little has been said about another hazard associated with ever-smaller, more portable, electronic gadgets: distracted walking. Students whose minds are focused on their devices, not on the world around them, tend to be oblivious to red lights, “Don’t Walk” signs, curbs, pedestrian crossing zones and even other pedestrians.
Tragically, their inattention could result in serious or even fatal injuries like those recently suffered by some University of Connecticut and Western Connecticut State University students killed after being struck by on-campus vehicles.
Those incidents caused school administrators and the state legislature to employ a new method of alerting walkers to the presence of school shuttlebuses. Known as the “SafeTune Alert System,” the system broadcasts a pre-recorded message announcing the presence of a shuttlebus over the vehicle’s P.A. system.
An education campaign aimed at encouraging students to keep their eyes on the world instead of focusing exclusively on a portable electronic device is another effort aimed at protecting Connecticut campuses. Some basic safety-related actions can go a long way toward reducing pedestrian accidents. These include:
- Looking both ways before crossing the street
- Obeying traffic signals and “Don’t Walk” signs
- Using pedestrian crosswalks
- Not wearing headphones while walking in a high-traffic area
- Observing one’s surroundings instead of focusing solely on texting, tweeting or reading
- Walking against traffic instead of with it
Hopefully the presence of the SafeTune Alert System on Connecticut school campuses and the reminders about safe pedestrian behaviors will significantly reduce the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries. If you or your child has been injured by a vehicle while walking on a Connecticut roadway, consider seeking the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about possible legal options.