Fall semester at BYU has started and thousands of students have returned to live all around BYU’s campus. Many Provo residents see this as the start of another eight months of watching out for careless BYU students zig-zagging through the streets south of campus.
More than 25 apartment complexes and numerous houses litter the streets south of campus between 900 East and University Boulevard. Because of the high density of BYU students who live in a small area, the fall and winter semesters at BYU see a constant movement of students between their residences and campus. For local Provo residents, and even BYU students, the careless nature for students crossing the streets is cause of concern and irritation.
Local Provo resident Karen Feltz, who lives east of campus and has to drive frequently through BYU off-campus housing, recently had a close call while driving home. On the first day of school the resident and her husband were driving east on 600 North when a female student walked right in front of oncoming traffic.
“She came from behind a van that was parked on the street. We had to brake and she was totally unaware we were there,” Feltz said. “We can’t avoid this because we live east of BYU. We anticipate this happening.”
The resident has had many close calls while driving home just within the past week.
“Another time a male was looking down,” Feltz said. “He must of been texting and he didn’t even look up. There was no intersection with a stop sign for us to stop. It’s just worrisome. It just doesn’t seem natural for a person to think everyone is aware of them.”
The numerous blocks between 900 E. and University Blvd have a unique layout of stop signs and cross walks. Even with the constant flow of students commuting back and forth, numerous streets, such as 700 North, have no stop signs for vehicles.
“700 N. is crazy because there are no stop signs,” Feltz explained. “People just run across. I just don’t get it. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
Many students share the frustration felt by permanent residents of Provo. BYU student Kyle Andrews from Houston, Texas is bewildered by the pedestrians he encounters around campus.
“I think people that walk without looking are dumb,” Andrews said. “I don’t understand the pedestrians in Provo.”
In a few months winter will bring less daylight and riskier road conditions, which raises the stress level even more for drivers on the road.
“In winter, when it is dark, they do the same thing,” Feltz said. “It’s scary. They just walk out in dark clothes. There are times when we have to stop pretty fast,” Feltz.
This raises the question: if BYU students are unaware of their surroundings or do local drivers need to exercise more patience in dealing with a small area with such a high population.
According to Title 41 Chapter 6a Section 1002 of the Utah Constitution “When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way by slowing down or stopping if necessary.”
Title 41 also states “A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
While a debate can be held about whether this law rules in favor of the driver or the college pedestrian, many Provo residents think action needs to be taken to make this issue easier for both parties.
“They should have flashing lights during school hours to help potential accidents,” Andrews said.
Concerned residents don’t want to be seen as nagging but as trying to help prevent a fatal accident.
“As a parent, I wouldn’t want to hear one of my kids got hit in an accident,” the resident said.