Texting and Driving Dangerous to Campus Growth

Matthew Swiger

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Matthew Swiger is a junior in criminal justice.

Matthew Swiger is a junior in criminal justice.

Midwestern has attracted more students from outside Wichita County, and that means the campus is now more residential. Construction in front of Pierce Hall to make another walkway reveals how much we are changing. With more residents, however, comes more danger if we don’t adjust to being a residential campus.

Stepping out of the Sundance Courts Apartments it is not difficult to see three or four cars flying past at thirty miles an hour, or seeing three cars in a row with a cell phone in the driver’s hands. There are already many students who cross the street without bothering to look, so all it takes is one of these students to step across while someone is speeding or texting, and we have a disaster.

There are already regulations in place in regards to speeding, and university police Sgt. Albert Jimenes informs me that on campus, it is still considered a school zone, and fines are double what they are normally. They also have electronic speed radars to show drivers how fast they are going so the driver might slow down.

This does not solve the growing issue of those texting while blazing through the campus roads, though. According to Jimenes, while there are policies in place by city ordinance in regards to elementary schools and high schools, there are no policies for the campus police to enforce here on campus. That is not to say that you should text while driving, because for the one second you look down to your phone, you are not aware of the student that crosses the street without looking for drivers.

The campus police does receive small items from the phone companies that go around a person’s finger to remind them that “Texting can wait,” but until there’s a campus policy put in place, they cannot regulate those who text. This is a very dangerous thing.

On the average day, hundreds of students are crossing the streets and walking through parking lots to get to class. Several are walking with their noses glued to their phones, or bopping their head to the music from the ear buds plugged into their ears and aren’t bothering to look for drivers. Furthermore, I’ve seen the other day three drivers in a row that were looking at their phones while driving down the street.

We shouldn’t wait for a driver that is texting to hit one of these students before something is done about this.

I asked Jimenes if there has been any trouble, and he did state they had an accident recently that involved a driver on their phone, granted this student was also drunk.

Currently there are a couple thousand students that live on campus, but much more that attend. The amount continues to grow as more students from various places inside and outside of the country enroll. This would have to mean that during the day, somebody is crossing a street every three to five seconds.

When you’re texting, no matter how skilled you feel you are, your mind is not focused on the road. To write a text message may take on average eight to ten seconds, if it is short. This does not include the amount of time it takes to look down at the phone, pick the phone up, hit send, and put the phone back down. What the average person may not catch themselves doing is glancing away from the road whenever they are performing these actions.

It is important to understand that the responsibility of being aware falls on both the driver and the pedestrian. Still, the pedestrian should not expect the driver to be fully aware just as the driver should absolutely not expect that a pedestrian is looking while crossing the street.

What needs to be done is to raise an awareness of how important it is to make sure drivers on this campus are putting their phones down. Something needs to be done before a disaster occurs, and with how fast this campus is growing, disaster is imminent.

Drivers need to be more aware of the students, and the students need to be more aware of the drivers when they cross. Recall the words your mother told you when you were a child, to “look both ways before crossing.” This is not just for children, and as mentioned above, the driver must not expect the pedestrian to know this.

Sergeant Jimenes did say there is something that can be done to ensure drivers are more cautious and careful of pedestrians. “A number of students will have to go to the Student Government,” Jimenes said. “Then the Student Government needs to petition the Board in order to make it a policy on campus not to text [while driving].”

Then, and only once it becomes a campus policy, would university police be able to do anything about it. Until then, their hands are tied.

For now, all that can be done is to make both students and those who drive through the campus more aware of the danger, but just how long will that work before the inevitable occurs? Let’s raise awareness and nip this in the bud before somebody is hurt, and before the school is sued by someone hit by a driver that was texting.

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