Walking around campus should not make students question their safety.
The past two semesters have brought to light a common concern for every Stony Brook University student: pedestrian safety. Whether one is commuting from home or living in the dorms, every student walks around campus to get to class, a club meeting or lunch with friends.
When walking to class, students should not have to ask themselves if the car coming toward them will stop when they cross the street.
On a typical day, it is common to spot a car treating a stop sign as a yield sign or a pedestrian who did not even look up from his or her phone before crossing the street. Cyclists and longboarders breeze through intersections without slowing.
Every time this happens, it perpetuates the attitude that the safety at intersections is someone else’s responsibility—that everyone waiting for their turn to cross must immediately stop because a cyclist, driver or longboarder decided he or she is too important to slow down and look both ways.
This needs to stop. We need to end accidents that might have been prevented if people took a few more seconds to make sure the intersection was clear. We need to stop putting people in the hospital because we are in too much of a rush to actually stop at a stop sign.
It is a driver’s responsibility to be aware of his or her surroundings on the road. By passing a road test, it is assumed that a driver can be trusted to follow the rules of the road and drive safely. A violation of those rules can be something as simple as blasting music too loudly or checking a text. Drivers should not be putting themselves into a situation where they are not fully attentive to what is happening while on the road; otherwise, they risk hurting other people.
The intersections on campus are busy and unsafe. Maybe at one time, stop signs and minimal streetlamps were sufficient. But as the student population grows, there are more people crossing intersections more frequently at all times of the day. Until the administration decides that a greater effort is required to make the roadways on campus safe, we are on our own to safely get to where we are headed.
The university’s media relations office responds with some PR move or another after every accident, but no department does anything to actually alleviate the problem. After a police vehicle drove over a lane of traffic and struck Brianna Bifone as she walked on the sidewalk last semester, the university handed out free safety vests. Would she have been able to avoid the car if she wore the vest? No.
If Stony Brook University wants to prevent accidents, it needs to spend resources on the known trouble areas of campus.
One of the most troublesome regions on campus for both drivers and pedestrians is the intersection of West Drive and Circle Road. During rush hour, drivers roll past the stop signs to speed past the pedestrians and other drivers, else they might be stuck there for an extended period of time. Concurrently, pedestrians cross without care, as the cars are forced to wait for all to pass before being able to get past the intersection. A different system needs to be implemented to prevent an over-anxious driver from causing an accident.
Drivers need to stop at stop signs before continuing to drive. Pedestrians need to look up from their phones to check the street as they walk. No one can assume that everyone is going to stop for them or that they can even be seen. Everyone needs to take time to be aware of what is going on. We will all be better for it.
The Editorial Board