BYU students spearhead effort to prevent jaywalking

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BYU’s University Police, staff and students have taken a stance against jaywalking in an effort to reduce the amount of jaywalking at BYU.

Zach Steele, a civil engineering major, first began his fight against jaywalking while taking a foundation leadership class. He and his group were challenged to bring awareness to an issue in society.

A student crosses the street into oncoming traffic on Ninth East, east of campus
A student crosses the street into oncoming traffic on Ninth East. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

“We began brainstorming issues as a group,” Steele said. “We noticed that a lot of people jaywalk at BYU, and (we) wanted to help stop it.”

The Campus Drive project and other construction across campus has posed a challenge for students’ safety, and Steele’s group wanted to help.

“We’ve heard of students being injured on Campus Drive, and this helped to add validity to our cause,” Steele said. “This inspired us to raise awareness, and one thing that we could do was to put signs up.”

Steele and his group went to work creating signs that University Police could post at different locations and intersections around campus.

Some signs feature serious facts and quotes about the dangers of jaywalking. One sign states: “A pedestrian is injured in a traffic crash every eight minutes. Push the button. Stay alive.”

Lt. Arnold Lemmon, who has worked for University Police for 34 years, mentioned that it’s the police’s mission to keep students and faculty safe.

“Jaywalking is a common occurrence on campus, and we are trying to reduce the number of crosswalks on campus in order to prevent people from getting hit by cars,” Lemmon said.

In the past 12 months, University Police has issued 47 citations and 143 warnings to people caught on campus jaywalking.  The cost of a jaywalking ticket is $50.

Jaywalking is not only financially costly, but can cost someone his or her life, as Lemmon witnessed firsthand.

J walkers cross nineth east on a recent afternoon. (photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)
Jaywalkers cross Ninth East on a recent afternoon. (Photo by Sarah Strobel Hill)

The jaywalking accident Lemmon witnessed took place off campus as a student who lived at Wyview apartments was walking to campus. The student cut across a busy street and was hit and killed by a car she didn’t see.

“Cars are going to win every time,” Lemmon said. “For BYU Police, one death is one too many. To prevent any more accidents from occurring, BYU Police is stepping up enforcement and will give citations to pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles not abiding by traffic rules.”

To prevent any more accidents or deaths on campus, BYU has decided to close and improve Campus Drive to make campus more pedestrian-friendly. Changes include roundabouts that will divert traffic to parking lots, sidewalks to keep people off the road, and a section of Campus Drive in front of the J. Reuben Clark Law School that will be paved to make a pedestrian mall.

Steele, who is still in the process of getting his signs approved by University Police, hopes his group’s cause will save lives.

“Jaywalking is illegal, and it’s difficult to perceive how fast a car is going,” Steele said. “Ultimately, we want to raise awareness and help stop jaywalking on campus.”

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