Auto accident frequency creeps upward

Syracuse University public safety officials say being more aware is the best way to curb traffic accidents on campus.

With almost 50 traffic accidents on campus so far this school year, public safety officials at the university and in the city are looking for ways to ensure driver and pedestrian safety in the Syracuse University area. 

“On both sides, pedestrians and drivers, awareness is really the key (to safer streets)," said Cpl. CJ McCurty of SU’s Department of Public Safety.                           

I think it’s stupid that we have to teach 18-, 19-year-old kids how to cross the street, and yet here we are.
Cpl. CJ McCurty, DPS

Since Aug. 24, DPS has responded to 46 motor vehicle accidents, McCurty said. Sixteen of them were moving car versus moving car collisions, 15 were moving car versus parked car where the person reported it, nine were hit and run where someone hit a parked car then left the scene, four were car versus pedestrian and two were car versus fixed objects.

Out of those accidents, three people were transported to the hospital, McCurty said. One was for a moving car versus moving car collision, and two were for car versus pedestrian.

The best way for the area to be safer for drivers and pedestrians is for both groups to pay more attention, McCurty said.

“At least pay attention,” McCurty said. “You got kids who walk and take their time. Pedestrians do have the right of way, but they don’t have the right to step in front of moving traffic.”

McCurty added, “(Drivers) should be paying attention also, keeping their speed down. You have to be aware.”

DPS in the past has taken some specific measures to try to make the area safer for drivers and pedestrians. Last spring, McCurty and another officer spent two weeks as crossing guards in the intersection at Comstock Avenue and University Place in front of Ernie Davis Hall. It helped, McCurty said, but only while they were stationed there.

“I think it’s stupid that we have to teach 18-, 19-year-old kids how to cross the street, and yet here we are,” McCurty said.

DPS has talked about issuing tickets to students who jaywalk, McCurty said. So far there have only been informal discussions, and tickets would only start to be given if the problem worsened, he said.

Jaywalking is already a ticketable offence under Syracuse ordinances. But police officers do not typically ticket for jaywalking because it’s not a top priority, said Sgt. Gary Bulinski of the Syracuse Police Department.

“A lot of time ticketing for that violation is at the discretion of the officer," he said. “And if they find that they might have been the reason or the cause of the accident occurring, then you might see them issue a ticket for that violation of law.”

If car-pedestrian accidents rise, then SPD would increase its presence in the area and begin ticketing more, Bulinski said.

But he does not see SU as the most problematic area of the city in terms of traffic accidents, Bulinski said. That title belongs to the area surrounding Carousel Center. But compared to Carousel, SU has more cars hitting pedestrians, he said.

“When you’re looking at a campus, there's so many students all around the campus hustling to or from class or lunch or maybe to work and to or from bars as well or going out for their social life, you just have a much larger population that’s on foot,” Bulinski said. “And when you add that many pedestrians to an area that has a high traffic volume to start with, you can only have more incidents involving car-pedestrian type crashes.”

If anyone finds a particular intersection unsafe, he or she can request a traffic study from the city, said Harry Carlson, a traffic control room operator. If a study is requested, an engineer looks into the intersection and decides if a stop sign, traffic light or other changes are necessary. Stop signs are relatively easy for the city to add, he said. But a traffic light costs $150,000. And adding auditory signals that beep or talk to the lights, like the ones at Waverly and University avenues, cost $8,000.

“Anyone – it doesn’t have to be an authority figure – anyone can have an intersection studied,” Carlson said. “If you’re going to put up a traffic light, you got to study that a little bit more.”


Pedestrian accidents on campus

This is a serious matter - being careless on the street could lead to serious injuries for both parties. It's good to bring awareness to this subject and hopefully there will be some sort of campaign to shine some safety tips around campus - especially near the Carousel Center. 


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