Pedestrian safety is a problem at Elon. When it comes to looking both ways, neither the pedestrian nor the driver are engaging.

Walking around Elon’s campus on an average day, I see that accidents involving pedestrians are not only feasible, but also inevitable. The majority of students at crosswalks rarely, if ever, pay even the slightest mind to the crossing signal.

Instead, many students rely either on their personal judgment or on the group consensus of other pedestrians when determining when it is safe to cross. Such thinking is commonplace, but it represents a constant danger of how pedestrians exist in relation to drivers — not to mention the careless attitudes of some of the drivers at Elon.

What causes this heedless dismissal of safety regulations in favor of one’s personal intuition is the blind assumption that drivers will stop and pedestrians will pay attention. When a pedestrian crosses the road without minding the crossing signal, there is the unspoken assumption that should any vehicles approach, they will stop when the drivers see the pedestrian crossing the road. Conversely, it can be easy for drivers to assume that pedestrians will obey proper safety measures. Unfortunately, these expectations can lead to conflict.

It’s been two weeks since freshman Gabriela Rosales was struck by a vehicle while crossing North Williamson Ave. March 16. 

Though the tragic incident is in no way Rosales’s fault, there is much more to take away from these unfortunate circumstances than a greater appreciation for pedestrian safety. This incident allows for a better understanding of the consequences when drivers and pedestrians fail to fully recognize each other.

By acknowledging instances in which drivers and pedestrians appear to disregard each other, we can most assuredly keep incidents like Rosales’ to an absolute minimum.

This incident should be chilling reminders that pedestrian safety is necessary to learn and keep in mind going forward. Merely rejecting these “guidelines” can lead to disastrous, sometimes fatal, results.

While each accident involving a driver and a pedestrian should be judged primarily by context, these assumptions could generally be considered contributing factors. We have been given an opportunity, as grave as the circumstances behind it may be, to examine faults in the relationship between pedestrians and drivers. We can improve this relationship by acknowledging that these faults exist and that there are unspoken s that affect how drivers and pedestrians interact with each other.

Perhaps by allowing safety to play a more active role in how we live, we can prevent further such accidents in the future. Surely there is no better way to honor Rosales and the numerous past victims of our willful oversights.


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