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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Three serious injuries call for immediate need for improved crosswalk safety precautions

Published: February 7, 2014
Section: Editorials

Three serious injuries call for immediate need for improved crosswalk safety precautions

In the wake of an event that The Boston Globe hailed as “peril at Brandeis,” where terrified parents called their children as soon as hearing about the event on the news, The Hoot’s point of view on the car that struck three students crossing the street is simple: Brandeis should have addressed this problem long ago.

The Hoot wrote an editorial on the safety of students crossing South Street more than two years ago. Issued after a similar instance where a student was sent to the hospital after being struck by a car, the editorial suggested large warning signs indicating pedestrian crossings, speed bumps and improved lighting near the crosswalks.

The editorial stated that enough was enough, and it was time for Brandeis to make a change to improve campus safety. We wrote, “Our community can’t be naive. Crosswalk safety requires real changes because the alternative is waiting for a more serious accident and by that time it will be too late.”

Over two years later, that accident has happened, but Brandeis still has not improved the situation.

In a “Pedestrian Safety Advisory” email sent out to students following the accident, Ed Callahan, director of public safety, urged students to be cautious. “Please use the overpass above South Street whenever possible. Please activate the crosswalk lights as a warning to motorists when using the crosswalk,” the email stated.

While students need to be careful for their own safety, “not pressing the button” should not place the blame of the accident on students. It’s the driver’s responsibility—both legally and ethically—to not hit people simply trying to cross the street. Students should be sensible when crossing and driving nearby, but pressing the button is not the only answer.

While Callahan’s email also advises that “drivers should be particularly aware of pedestrians around van and shuttle stops,” this is an email sent only to the Brandeis community. Other drivers from Waltham and surrounding areas may be ignorant of the large outflux of students who attempt to cross South St. each day.

Callahan suggests, “Cyclists should use lights and wear reflective clothing.” But again, as The Hoot advised years ago, Brandeis needs to make an overhaul change that will improve visibility at student crossings.

We hope the advent of a very serious accident will cause Brandeis to finally wake up and make crossing safer and easier for all of us in the Brandeis community.