“I used to have friends who’d call and ask me to help them cross the street,” said Steffan Chapman, a PSC student.
For some PSC students, crossing 220 from Catamount Place is difficult due to the lack of a stoplight or crosswalk. The closest crosswalk is on St. Cloud Street, a block from Fort Ave.
Recent events at West Virginia University Morgantown campus have revealed the urgency and importance for proper student traffic safety. On February 1, 2018 Leah Berhanu, a WVU student, was hit at the intersection of Morrill Way and Patterson Drive near Evansdale Campus entrance. Berhanu was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
What is PSC doing to prevent this?
To prevent an accident like the one in Morgantown, the city of Keyser and PSC administration have plans to place a stoplight at the bottom of State street. This light will create a safer, more convenient place for students to cross. Discussion of the stop light began nearly two years ago under former campus president Dr. Colelli, said PSC Chief of Police Brian Kerling.
Construction of the light will be completed no later than the end of September 2018, according to West Virginia Division of Highways’ Kenneth Clohan who oversees the placement of stoplights and other road signs in seven WV districts. Until the light is in place, PSC drivers and pedestrians can take precautions to remain safe.
What can drivers and pedestrians do until light is installed?
“Actually pay attention,” said Kerling when giving advice to drivers and pedestrians on campus. Kerling emphasizes that both drivers and pedestrians need to be completely aware of their surroundings.
Kerling said he was on Campus Drive recently in the patrol car, and a female was walking in the middle of the road. She had her face down, looking at her cell phone. The female headed straight towards the patrol car, and Kerling had to come to a complete stop before she walked into his vehicle. Kerling encourages pedestrians to use the sidewalks and look up from their phones.
WVU released a list of tips to pedestrians and drivers on how to stay safe on the streets. For pedestrians, WVU encourages students to obey all traffic signals, make eye contact with drivers, show your intentions of crossing and always assume a car won’t stop for you. The safe use of cell phone usage was emphasized within the tips.
A study conducted by the National Safety Council in 2015 shows that cell phone usage while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. It also showed that one out of every four car accidents is caused by texting and driving.
In 2015 alone, 3,477
total deaths and 391,000 injuries were due to distracted driving in the U.S.
“When someone else is driving and they are checking their phone, eating or fidgeting with the radio, I tend to feel very nervous and uncomfortable,” said PSC freshman Mariah Boyce.
“I’m sometimes tempted to smack their phone out of their hand,” said Katie Shreve, PSC freshman, “it makes me cautious to ride with them again.”
Most drivers will acknowledge that texting or being distracted while driving is dangerous. According to AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of those students admit to doing it anyway. “To be honest, I eat, text and talk on the phone while I drive,” admits one PSC student who wishes to remain anonymous.
WVU campus administrators are working to protect their students and prevent any more tragic accidents. Kerling stated that last school year signs instructing pedestrians to use side walks were placed on State Street.
In Morgantown, University Police recently placed portable signs at busy intersections where accidents have occurred. Morgantown campus’ SGA also held two safety walks near busy intersections to identify where areas may need additional safety measures for pedestrians. “We recognize that all these immediate actions are not permanent,” said Rob Alsop, WVU vice president for strategic initiatives in a WVU press release, “but long-term solutions will take time to investigate and then implement appropriately.”