By Marc Newman

Walking around Stony Brook University might seem more like stroll through the autobahn than a walk through a friendly neighborhood campus. Cars roll through stop signs, move at double the speed limits, and whip around turns while failing to yield the right of way.

‘Just the other day I saw a car right in front of Roosevelt Quad go right through a stop sign going at least thirty miles per hour, while I was making a turn,’ junior Rares Saftoiu said. ‘He could have caused a huge accident, like many of the drivers on campus that just pretend stop signs don’t apply to them on campus.’

Saftoiu is not alone in his concerns. Doug Little, Deputy Chief of Police and Chief of Community Relations and Patrol is asking that drivers apply their smarts not only in the classroom on campus, but also on the roads.

People here think ‘speed, speed, speed; and it’s causing a lot of accidents,’ said Little. Nineteen motor-vehicle accidents have been reported since January alone. While Little concedes that weather has been a factor through this, nothing can help explain the nearly 50% increase in moving violation tickets issued from 2001 to 2002 other than poor driving.

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‘Some people talk on their cell phones and drive in the left lane eating popcorn like they were in their own living rooms,’ Little said.

He noted that using handheld phones is illegal, and that a fresh New York State law prohibited drivers from even moving when a pedestrian on a curb approaches a cross-walk.

‘Yield at crosswalks and take our 15 or 30 mile per hour road signs seriously,’ said Little. He noted that many of the tickets issued on campus had drivers moving at fifty to sixty miles per hour,speeds more suited for highways than for a 35,000 person campus.

Little recalled a story of one of his patrol officers who clocked a driver going 81 miles per hour on the North Loop in front of the LIRR station. Since then, the police department in conjunction with theTransportation and Parking Services on campus installed a new stop sign. A new light was also installed on the South Loop Road entrance to West Campus.

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‘The new light at the [South Loop] intersection has been really helpful,’ sophomore Matthew Gershen said. ‘I don’t feel stressed out approaching that area anymore.’

There are, however, limitations to how many steps Stony Brook can take to control the driving problems on campus. Additional speed bumps often cannot be installed because of laws that prohibit them on public roadways. The main entrance is undergoing major construction since the building of the Wang Center, and most of the signs there are in limbo.

But surprisingly, Little said that most of the problems on campus occur where there are plenty of signs put up. Well-demarcated crosswalks at Tabler and Roosevelt have been the sites of the most accidents in past years. It is left to the driver to yield to pedestrians and follow the rules of the road.

‘No one cares about pedestrians,’ senior Pratichi Kothari said. ‘I’ve been in the middle of a crosswalk and had someone step on the gas and pass within a foot of my body.’

Additionally, Little asks that everyone on campus make sure his or her car is inspected and registered on time. ‘A lot of students with their parents’ cars leave the car on campus for long periods of time, and don’t remember to keep-up their vehicle,’ Ralph Stears, Jr., Head of the Police Department Record Office said. The police department distributes tickets for expired registration and inspection.

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Little asks that anyone who notices particular driving problem areas on campus to make that information available to UniversityPolice.

Motor VehicleStatistics for SUNY Stony Brook

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