Sidewalk safety: Put the phones away 

By Hannah Dunbar  


Technology has allowed people to be in constant communication with friends, family, and colleagues. There are several advantages and disadvantages to being connected 24/7.

According to Steve Baum, interim director of safety and security, a disadvantage of this constant connectivity is the amount of distractions created by cell phones.

“The intersection of N. Cory Street and Frazer Street is crazy,” said Baum. “People expect traffic to stop for them and it often doesn’t.”

Michaela Decker, a security officer who has worked in the Office of Safety and Security for one year, agrees that students tend to be distracted when walking around campus.

“I feel like 50 percent of students are distracted by headphones, earbuds, or looking at their cell phones when walking,” said Decker.

However, Decker believes students are more aware of their surroundings when they walk in groups.

“I think that because they are socializing they are not so channeled into their phone or music,” Decker said.

A lot of people do not think about looking both ways before crossing the street, according to Decker. Many people have the mindset that getting hit by a car would never happen to them.

“The dangerous part is when students cross the street and they’re on their phones and assume traffic will stop for them,” said Decker. “That is where awareness needs to be raised: when students begin walking out in front of cars.”

Security officers are not the only staff members on campus who have witnessed students blindly crossing the street. Karen Fulks, administrative assistant at The Wolfe Center for Alumni, Parents, and Friends, said the crosswalk in front of Henderson Dining Hall has been a concern for years. The office is located across the street from Winebrenner Theological Seminary, so staff members travel down Frazer Street frequently to attend meetings on campus.

“In the past, my co-workers and I have been driving down Frazer Street and have come across students not paying attention and crossing the street,” said Fulks.

According to Decker, the crosswalk in front of Henderson Dining Hall on Frazer Street is not the only area on campus considered dangerous. The crosswalk on Davis Street and N. Cory Street is busy as well as the parking lot located on Morey Avenue across from The Village.

“I think the Davis Street crosswalk on N. Cory Street is the busiest,” said Decker. “That corner crosswalk is used frequently by students and is a free-for-all.”

UF has attempted to increase awareness at both locations, according to Mansfield.

“A few years ago, the flashing stop signs on Davis Street and on Frazer Street were bought and installed by UF in order to draw more attention to the crosswalks,” said Mansfield.

Mansfield said that after a few students were hit crossing the street in front of Henderson Dining Hall, the crosswalks were put in place.

Mansfield’s advice to students is to be more aware of their surroundings when walking alone on campus and to remember the old advice of looking both ways before crossing the street. He also encourages students to not walk around with headphones in because students who do often cannot hear a car or golf cart approaching them.

“There is no price on safety,” said Mansfield. “Even though the signs were expensive, the cost does not matter if they prevent someone from being hit, hurt, or killed.”

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