The sour memory of citations may remain, but students have returned to their normal, hurried pace across school intersections a week after Operation PED. This return to form begs the question: Was it worth it?
Operation PED was a hasty response to an ongoing concern. Punishment does not provide lasting results. The two-week operation only established the fear of being caught in drivers and pedestrians, not a message that promotes law abiding behavior when police aren’t looking.
Other solutions aside from issuing tickets need to be pursued to inform students about these laws and their purpose in order to permanently increase pedestrian safety.
But self-preservation is a human instinct and people can be relied upon to look after their own safety. People begin to put themselves, and others in jeopardy when they start rushing. When people begun to hurry is when they begin to endanger themselves. But it’s not pedestrians that are putting people in danger, it’s cars.
University Police started Operation PED with the goal of increasing pedestrian safety, according to a 2018 Daily Titan article. To be clear, nobody thinks that increasing pedestrian safety is a bad idea. However, the intersection at Nutwood and Commonwealth avenues is not a particularly busy intersection for vehicles compared to other intersections around campus, even during peak hours when the typical delay is under 20 seconds.
Students who feel the need to make it across the street quickly aren’t to blame for safety problems. Time is a luxury not every student can afford and it’s easy to fall into a hurried routine. Students may be getting up incredibly early to get a parking spot on campus just to make it to class on time. They should not be having to worry about falling victim to a campaign that was designed to increase their safety.
These tickets are not just slaps on the wrists either. Minimum fines start at $197, according to a 2018 Daily Titan article. That’s nearly the cost of a parking pass, or approximately 20 hours of work (without taxes) on minimum wage.
It would almost be cheaper to miss a day of work because you spent the night in jail, than it would be to pay a ticket for jaywalking. Handing out citations is an added financial strain that students just don’t deserve.
During the second week of Operation PED, 50 pedestrians and 35 drivers were cited, according to a 2018 Daily Titan article. This is hypocritical. More focus should be on drivers making unsafe choices and jeopardizing the lives of pedestrians around intersections.
Ticketing students who may be facing financial burdens is unnecessary. Having a monitoring system in place, whether it be a crossing guard or cop, would suffice instead.
Investing in high visibility flashing lights for the intersection would also improve pedestrian safety. Solutions to the issue of pedestrian safety need to be resolved in ways that do not punish the pedestrians.
Students are going to be worried about paying steep fines instead of preparing for their first midterms all because the school wanted to avoid some liability – typical thoughtless and counterproductive policy from out-of-touch administration.