The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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How SMU is protecting pedestrians with new crosswalk safety additions

SMU zebra crossings were fitted with new safety signs with lights and road markings to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians.
SMU+students+walk+across+the+intersection+of+Binkley+Avenue+and+Airline+Road+with+the+aid+of+the+new+traffic+sign.
Kirk Ogunrinde
SMU students walk across the intersection of Binkley Avenue and Airline Road with the aid of the new traffic sign.

SMU junior Mahi Pepple was at a crosswalk in front of SMU’s Mac’s Place when she almost got hit by a car during her freshman year in 2021. She vividly remembers being in shock for hours after the incident occurred. Unbeknownst to her, this would not be her last time.

She experienced a similar event last semester, at another crosswalk on Ownby Drive, in front of the SMU Athletics Centre.

“The car grazed me a little bit,” she said. “It stopped so I thought I could go but then it kept going and almost hit me.”

Pepple joins other students who have almost been hit by motor vehicles on SMU’s campus, prompting a cause for concern for pedestrians at zebra crossings.

This comes after last year’s incident where a student was injured crossing the intersection between University Boulevard and Airline Road. Another student was injured after being struck by a car while crossing Airline Road in 2010.

These incidents have prompted concerns for additional safety measures on high-traffic crosswalks around the university campus.

The topic was discussed during a University Park city council meeting last year. The council went forward to approve a traffic study on the Airline Road and University Boulevard intersection, as well as additional traffic calming recommendations on Airline Road between McFarlin Boulevard and Daniel Avenue.

New Road Marking on the crosswalk of Airline Road. (Kirk Ogunride)

“SMU collaborates with the City of University Park and Town of Highland Park to enhance pedestrian safety on city-owned streets bordering the campus,” said Michael Molina, AVP and chief architect for SMU Facilities Planning and Management. “There are plans to implement additional measures at other locations near and on campus within the next several months.”

In response, SMU has fitted new signs and road markings at various crosswalks around the university campus. These signs are described as “Rapid-Flashing Beacons (RFBs),” and feature caution signs with lights that can be activated by pedestrians before they attempt to cross the street. Drivers would not be able to proceed until the pedestrians finish crossing and the lights stop flashing.

The road markings perform a similar task. They provide guidance to road users, regulate traffic flow, and indicate useful information such as pedestrian crossings, parking spaces, or busy areas.

The lights provide peace of mind to pedestrians, said Helena Allor, a junior at SMU.

“I wish there were more on campus,” she said. “I was happy that they put them where they put them; especially outside Moody [School of Graduate and Advanced Studies].”

These signs have been strategically placed on high-traffic crosswalks to prevent the frequency of accidents involving pedestrians on campus. In addition to those at the intersection of Binkley and Airline, there are others at Airline Road and University Boulevard, Airline Road and Daniel Avenue, and by Airline Road and McFarlin Boulevard in front of the Frances Anne Moody Hall.

There have been similar safety measures employed by other universities to improve overall campus safety such as Purdue University, Kilgore College and University of Texas at San Antonio.

New Road marking reading “Ped Xing” on Airline Road.

The signs are a valuable safety enhancement for both pedestrians and motorists, according to SMU Chief of Police Jim Walters.

“These RFBs [Rapid Flash Beacons] offer numerous benefits at pedestrian crossings, making them a valuable safety enhancement,” he said. “These include increased visibility for pedestrians in low-light or adverse weather conditions, enhanced safety by alerting drivers to the presence of pedestrians using the crosswalk, encouragement for drivers to yield and for pedestrians to use the crosswalk, and accessible design for all road users, including those with disabilities.”

SMU Police have also distributed moveable crosswalk safety signs at busy intersections as another means to remind motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, in addition to an increased police presence at intersections during peak times of the year.

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