Provo Police worried about pedestrian safety

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By Madeleine Brown

The Provo Police Department is taking new measures to ensure that the 13,000 school children and 35,000 college students in Provo get to and from school safely.

With the start of school for BYU and Provo School District, thousands of students from all over the country crowd streets with cars, bikes and themselves. Auto-pedestrian accidents are bound to happen.

“For the last five years, we have averaged 40 auto-pedestrian accidents per year. And that’s a lot of people getting hit on our streets,” Provo Police Sgt. Matt Siufanua said.

To make pedestrians safer, Provo Police implemented a cross walk safety program to help educate the public about the increasing pedestrian traffic.

As part of the program, two undercover Provo Police officers crossed a cross walk clearly marked by cones 230 feet away. Police stopped 75 cars, but only cited 17 to make it clear that the goal of the program is educating drivers.

They are also placing speed trailers in various parts of town . The trailers, equipped with large LED displays, help drivers notice when they are driving too fast.

Siufanua warns, “Don’t be a complacent pedestrian or a complacent driver. Always be aware of your surroundings, always be scanning where you’re going, and follow the rules on the road and just watch out for people.”

Jenna Snyder, a sophomore from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said drivers need to be more attentive.

“You literally have to check the sidewalks everywhere you go,” Snyder said. “You have to be looking at the people and the cars at the same time, which makes driving a lot more stressful. The thing that’s really scary is that you’re responsible if you hit them.”

However, Snyder said pedestrians need to do their part too.

“Even when I’m a pedestrian, I find myself doing the things that I hate when I’m driving,” Snyder continued. “I know pedestrians are supposed to have the right of way everywhere, but I think that pedestrians [in Provo] don’t even think when they cross the street.”

Brennan Wright, 21, a sophomore from Kennewick, Wash., said he feels safe walking the streets of Provo.

“I feel like I take advantage of the crosswalks and cars have to stop a lot,” Wright said. ” But, I feel like [the drivers of] cars are good about stopping.”

Nathan Van Der Graaff, a finance major from Northbrook, Ill., said pedestrians aren’t the only people on the streets to worry about.

“I’m more worried about bikers than pedestrians, because bikers can sneak up on you,” he said.

Provo Police are reminding bicyclists that they aren’t pedestrians and need to follow vehicle rules.

Sgt. Siufanua said, “Really, when you’re on a bike you need to follow the laws of a vehicle more than you would a pedestrian.”

The Provo Police Department has offered some tips for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to keep everyone safe on the road.

  • Pedestrians: Always cross on marked crosswalks. Vehicles anticipate people in these locations.
  • Obey any pedestrian signals and look left-right-left, you should make sure the road is clear.
  • If a vehicle approaches, make eye contact with the driver, make sure he/she sees you before you go.
  • Look before walking past stopped vehicles, you cannot assume all cars see you in their lanes of travel. Be sure all lanes are clear first.
  • Remember that bicyclists are not considered pedestrians unless they are walking their bikes. Otherwise, they are considered vehicles.
  • Bicyclists: Yield to pedestrians.
  • Use marked bike paths or multi-use paths when available.
  • Obey vehicular traffic signals and laws on the roadways.
  • Use extra caution as you transition between bike paths, road sand sidewalks.
  • Be aware that your actions are unpredictable to drivers and pedestrians.
  • Make sure you are wearing a well fitted bike helmet.
  • Drivers: Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections.
  • Be prepared to stop at all marked crosswalks. Stay alert and reduce speed in areas with crosswalks.
  • Be alert for bicyclists and skateboarders whose approaches to the crosswalk may be much swifter than those of pedestrians.
  • Come to a complete stop if pedestrians are crossing or preparing to cross.
  • Wait until pedestrians have crossed at least one lane past the lane you are in before resuming travel.
  • Never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down at a crosswalk.
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