By Jasmina Alston | Staff Reporter
The Georgia State Police Department is educating students on pedestrian laws this year by issuing warnings and citations through a newly-implemented campaign called “Walk with the Man Not the Hand.”
Approximately six officers are citing students who do not follow the law. Thus far, three citations and 815 warnings have been issued. None were recorded for the previous school year.
Because the majority of Georgia State students get to and from class on foot, pedestrian safety and student awareness of laws on and off the sidewalk are important.
Sharon Ware, the public safety sergeant at Georgia State, said student pedestrian safety is a major concern on campus.
“As you know, jaywalking is a huge problem on our campus and we’re doing things to try to address that,” Ware said.
In 2002, the Georgia State Police Department formed the Pedestrian Safety Traffic Team to assist with pedestrian safety.
“At the beginning of each semester, you have so many new people that are not familiar with the way we do things,” Ware said. “So we get out and familiarize them with the pedestrian safety laws by issuing out warning citations as well as citations and that helps improve the situation.”
Despite this, jaywalkers are still common on campus.
Taylor Burns, a senior at Georgia State, said he does jaywalk, and does so every day.
“I don’t see the point in waiting and can judge for myself when it’s safe to cross the street,” Burns said.
While aware of the illegality of jaywalking, he is not concerned about being fined is not a concern of his.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Burns said.
He has never personally been struck by a vehicle while crossing the street, nor has he had any close calls.
Other students, such as junior Alex Duncan, have had close calls when it comes to walking on foot.
“A car was turning right and just not waiting on me. I was walking with the man, not the hand,” Duncan said.
Duncan is also guilty of occasional jaywalking when crossing the street. As Burns said, Duncan too uses her judgment when crossing and blames time management for the need to jaywalk.
“Yes, I jaywalk,” Duncan said. “Usually because of poor planning and I’m running late. But I look both ways. Because I don’t know how much it (fine) is, it doesn’t intimidate me.”
Crossing against a light, crossing outside of a crosswalk when the adjacent intersections are both controlled by signals and crossing midblock without yielding to oncoming traffic are all considered law violations.
All of these violations are susceptible to fines, according to Sally Flocks from Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety, Inc. (PEDS).
Some fines, such as in Dekalb County, cost up to 200 dollars. Georgia State’s fines vary depending on the specific offense students are cited for.
While citations are one repercussion of not abiding traffic laws, there is also the danger of being hit by an oncoming car.
“There’s usually less than one pedestrian killed at Georgia State per year,” Flocks said. “But if you were that person’s parents you would really regret it. So that’s still a lot.”
Flocks said students should be more aware of their surroundings when crossing the street.
“Georgia State students, some of them are walking as though there’s no risk and there is a lot of risk from drivers who are not doing the right thing.”