More caution needed when traveling on campus

Two days into the fall semester, new students are quickly learning what many returning students already knew: large groups of students means heightened traffic concerns.

With more than 40,000 students trying to find their way to classes or dorms – either by automobile, bicycle, skateboard or foot – traffic problems can escalate quickly if commuters ignore basic traffic precautions.

Drivers’ lack of focus has led to a dangerous beginning of the semester for campus travelers, illustrating the need for an increased emphasis on traffic safety.

On Monday, three separate campus accidents left students injured, while Tuesday saw a total of nine incidents, including two hit-and-runs.

The term “accident” can be misleading, though, as there is often a party at fault and most are avoidable.

First, it’s important to note that pedestrians have right of way on campus. Even if drivers have a green light, they should exercise patience and yield to pedestrians in bike lanes and crosswalks.

Being distracted – even for a moment – by a text message or a car’s stereo controls can have disastrous results. This fact is exaggerated when commuting through campus streets where there is a good chance that someone equally distracted or careless could travel directly in front of vehicles with little or no warning.

With nothing but pavement and an automobile to absorb the impact, the lack of protection means pedestrians are incredibly vulnerable to serious injuries or death when even minor collisions occur.

However, having the right of way doesn’t mean that pedestrians should act irresponsibly when walking, skating or riding their bikes across streets. They should show respect for drivers, as well as for their own safety, by adhering to crosswalk signals.

Jaywalking and crossing the street while the light is green is not just unsafe. It’s rude behavior that puts everyone at risk and contributes to careless practices by setting a dangerous example.

Commuter injuries can also be sustained on sidewalks and other areas without motorized vehicles but frequented by heavy foot traffic. Bicyclists and others operating non-motor powered vehicles and golf carts should show caution by reducing speed when navigating these paths.

Students have worked hard to earn admission to USF, and they shouldn’t take unnecessary risks that put their lives in jeopardy.