LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– One person is still in the hospital in critical but stable condition after being hit while crossing the street. Other citizens are concerned for their safety as pedestrians following this accident.
Jeanette Wickham, a concerned resident, brings awareness to the dangers pedestrians face when using crosswalks in busier areas including Johnston Street and University, Johnston Street and Bertrand Drive, Johnston Street, and Foreman Drive.
“We should feel safe enough to be safely in a pedestrian crossing without getting harassed by some drivers that even have road rage, or they don’t have enough patience to wait 20 to 30 seconds out of someone’s day, that’s not long,” said Wickham.
She says that many pedestrians experience a lack of respect from drivers in the seconds it takes to cross the street. Wickham wishes more drivers understood that pedestrians have just as many rights to the street as they do.
“A lot of drivers are not educated as to pedestrians having a right of way, and sometimes they will cut right in front of you when you’re almost in the middle of the pedestrian crossing,” she said.
Wickham sometimes has to cross the street with her husband, who is in a wheelchair. She says although they are within the crosswalk, drivers have directed foul language at the two of them. She wishes drivers would have more compassion and would be held accountable if they hit a pedestrian.
“The driver was not charged. They need to have that incident put in their driver’s record with the DMV that this person has got into an accident with a pedestrian. It wasn’t their fault, but it happened,” she said. “If I would drive and accidentally hit pedestrians and they would die, get hurt or killed, I’ll quit driving, and it would hurt my heart.”
Wickham hopes that more drivers think of their own families when approaching a pedestrian.
“Somebody knows that person. Their family, the pedestrian that gets hit in the hospital or gets killed, their family is stressed out, and their hearts are broken over that person. It’s a human being.”
Sgt. Robin Green, a spokesperson for the Lafayette Police Department, said as of right now, the police department has not worked on any pedestrian fatalities. However, safety is a shared responsibility of the driver and the pedestrian.
Sgt. Green advises pedestrians to use sidewalks when possible, if a sidewalk is unavailable, walk facing traffic so that drivers can see you. As always, look both ways before crossing the street and try to cross at intersections or crosswalks instead of in the middle of the road.
For drivers, Sgt. Green emphasizes being vigilant and alert. Don’t go around a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk because they may be letting a pedestrian cross.
In most cases, someone will report hitting what they thought was an animal, but it is actually a person. Sgt. Green says investigating what you may have hit ,especially when driving at night, can be the “precious moments between life or death.”
Other tips are for drivers to put down cell phones as they are a distraction. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol. For pedestrians, if you have to walk at night, wear reflective clothing. Do the speed limit during school hours.