“Slow down and pay attention”: crosswalk incidents raise concern for UPD

A JSU student uses a crosswalk to cross the street. Photo courtesy of Alyxxis Jones.

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

The university is asking students to take precautions after recent reports of pedestrians being struck by vehicles at crosswalks around campus. 

According to Michael Barton, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety at JSU, two crosswalk incidents have happened on campus since January.

The first incident happened on Jan. 20 at 1:35 p.m. at the University Recreation Center, according to police records. Barton said two university staff members were struck by a student motorist at the crosswalk on Pelham Road at Beck Circle. 

According to Barton, one victim had to be hospitalized but is now recovering. He said an investigation was done, and the driver took the proper steps in reporting the accident. 

Barton said the second incident happened on Feb. 1 at approximately 5:35 p.m. at the crosswalk on Pelham Road at University Circle, going towards the library. A motorist, who is not affiliated with JSU, struck a student before fleeing the scene. Barton said the student refused medical treatment when officers arrived.

Officials are still investigating the incident and believe the motorist was driving over the speed limit and ran the redlight when they hit the student, Barton said. The UPD worked with the City of Jacksonville to obtain warrants for the individual, and that person is actively being sought by officials, according to Barton.

Barton said he wants everyone to take extra safety precautions while walking and driving to avoid accidents. He said the first step is to “slow down and pay attention.”

“When I come to a crosswalk, I make it a point to put my phone back in my pocket, and at that intersection, I stop. I wait on the vehicle that’s coming to either stop or keep going. If they stop, I wave, and I want to make eye contact with them. That way I know they acknowledge my presence at that crosswalk … I think that’s a great practice for everybody,” Barton said.

Barton said the university is working with public safety departments to make campus safer for pedestrians, but it is a complicated process because of the Alabama Department of Transportation procedures. Barton said because Pelham Road is part of a state highway, the city cannot add signs or traffic lights without approval from the state, but they are working on other solutions.

“I’ve engaged with the district engineer for this district, as well as the officials with the City of Jacksonville, to talk about what additional measures can be put in place at these locations that we know have had recent incidents,” Barton said.

Barton also said the UPD will continue to patrol crosswalks in problem areas.

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