As the calendar flips from August to September, students throughout Indiana County are heading back to school. Classes started on Monday at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and other area schools are likewise beginning this week or next.
It's a busy and exciting time for students. It's also a potentially dangerous one. Students coming and going on foot or by bicycle are some of the most vulnerable people on our roads, and when they're hit by cars, they can be seriously hurt.
Our attorneys have seen too many students injured by negligent motorists. Here are some ways to stay safe while walking:
- Wear bright, reflective clothing. Some students have early-morning classes. Others take evening classes or have sports, clubs and activities late in the day. That means many are out walking at dawn and dusk - times of limited visibility when accidents are most likely to happen. Stay safe by wearing bright colors to maximize your visibility.
- Walk carefully in parking lots. Parking lots in general are dangerous places for pedestrian accidents because there are both vehicles and pedestrians coming and going - and it isn't always clear who needs to go where. On campus, parking lots can be even more dangerous because classes begin and end at the same time, meaning many people are coming and going at once. You're also likely to encounter visitors who don't know the campus or the area well.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Again, you're likely to encounter many drivers and pedestrians who don't know the campus as well as you do. Be aware of any hidden corners and don't step into the street from behind something that may obstruct a driver's view. Stick to sidewalks and crosswalks, and follow the rules of the road.
- Put the smartphone away. Texting, taking pictures or playing games while walking makes it difficult to walk in a straight line or pay attention to where you are going. If your message is important enough to send or read right away, it's important enough for you to stop and sit down to send it.
- Don't drink and walk. The dangers of drinking and driving are well known - and we're absolutely not recommending that you get behind the wheel while intoxicated - but remember that trying to walk home can be just as dangerous. Drugs and alcohol are involved in many pedestrian accidents, and often it's the pedestrian, not the driver, who was drunk at the time. Make sure you have a plan to get home safely.
Following these tips will help you get around safely on campus and in the community. And if you or a loved one has been hurt due to a motorist's recklessness, you have the right to pursue justice. An experienced attorney from our firm can help.