Pedestrians, drivers should be more aware of surroundings

Distractions while traveling on or near streets are numerous, avoid them to be safer citizens



Steve Hansen, WSU PD assistant chief, discusses safety problems between pedestrians and drivers and how educating people on the rules of the road can reduce accidents Tuesday at the WSU Police Department.

KRISTIN BULZOMI, Evergreen columnist

A few weeks ago, I was driving to campus from my apartment when I stopped for a pedestrian crossing the road. Moments later, a car rear-ended me. The driver was distracted for a moment and did not notice I had come to a stop, causing the accident.

All it took was looking away from the road for split second for a crash to happen.

Distracted driving and speeding are two of the biggest traffic issues on the WSU campus and in the City of Pullman, Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said.

It is so easy to get distracted while driving. We get a text, we are eating while driving or we drop something and look away to pick it up.

But despite these distractions, we cannot lose attention while driving.

The consequences of distracted driving can be severe, from hundreds of dollars in fines to jail time if you hurt or kill someone, Tennant said. The sign on Stadium Way states using a mobile phone while driving is a $136 fine.

Causing an accident can result in an increase in your insurance premiums every month and you could be liable for the repairs to the other car and for any injuries that might have occurred. It is even worse if you are risking it and do not have insurance despite it being against the law.

Speeding is no joke either.

You may be late for class, but speeding is not going to help you get there much faster, especially if you get pulled over by WSU PD, said Steve Hansen, WSU police department assistant chief. Tickets increase in cost depending on how much you exceed the speed limit. For example, a ticket for going 11-15 mph over the speed limit of 20 mph on campus is $156.

Speeding, texting and driving without insurance or causing an accident will all increase your monthly insurance premiums.

If you are still driving your parents’ car, trying to explain traffic tickets, accidents and increased monthly insurance would be tough and could be even worse than the fines depending on your parents.

Pedestrians are not innocent either.

As a pedestrian, you still have to be aware of your surroundings. There are a ton of crosswalks throughout campus and it is important to make sure that whenever you are crossing, cars are stopping to let you pass.

Simply being at a crosswalk or pushing the button to alert vehicles does not necessarily mean people will stop for you, Hansen said. Cars might not see you, might not be able to stop or just might not stop to allow you to cross. It is important to be aware and look both ways before crossing the road.

Tennant and Hansen both stressed the importance of patience and mindfulness on the roads. As a community, we all need to work together to ensure we are all safe. This means slowing down and paying attention as a driver and being aware as a pedestrian.

Traffic safety may sound boring and feel elementary, but when it affects you, it matters. It may seem as though you will never be the person who gets into an accident, hurts someone or gets hit by a car, but it only takes a moment for any of that to happen and it could affect you or someone else forever.