Crosswalk Light Length a Serious Safety Concern for Students – Opinion
Each day, hordes of students flock to the short crosswalk directly in front of the school. Here, crossing guard and HHS student Quincy McBride patrols the area and presses a button that encourages the walk-sign on the other side of the street to light up, allowing students to cross.
This walk-sign only lights up for five seconds.
Five seconds would be enough time for a long-legged person to take just a few strides and make it swiftly to the other side of the street, be there no other distractions or obstacles in this person’s way. However, cars zoom through this intersection, the drivers often disregarding the walk-light, making the area a bit unsettling for pedestrians. In drivers doing this, students are left with only two or three seconds to cross the street, which isn’t always enough time to cross, safely.
In an email interview with Quincy McBride, I asked if students ever express frustrations to him surrounding this crosswalk. He responded, “people constantly complain about the walk time. Usually about how long the wait is until they get the walk sign, and then about how short the walk signal is.” He then added, “I used to sympathize with them, but now I’m always so cold I don’t care. If they are really impatient they just cross when there is a gap in the cars which is fine as long as it’s safe.”
However, the concern is that it’s not always safe.
I asked him if he has noticed any minor or major car collisions or student slips since he was hired last summer. He discussed two “minor car accidents so far: someone rear-ended a pickup and someone slid into a parked car.” He added that “people walking slip and fall a lot,” though no one has actually fallen in the road yet.
Although I am not saying this crosswalk is by any means deadly, I do think the length of time allotted for kids to cross the street is too short. It’s a bit unsafe, of course, but, more than that, it’s just annoying.
When leaving the school’s doors, I can often see the walk-sign light up, casting a bright, white light; but, by the time I make it to the crossing guard, the sign has turned back to red. As students have similarly complained, it seems to take an excessive amount of time for the red signal to change back to white.
McBride explained that the new technology has somewhat improved this aspect of the intersection: “I have started controlling the lights manually in the afternoons because I can give a walk signal whenever I want and let it last as long as is needed.” He seems to use this new power for good, rather than evil, and writes, “if I see a driver who’s texting, I can give them a red light.”