STARKVILLE — Upgrades to a pedestrian crossing on the campus of Mississippi State are underway after a student was struck by a vehicle Thursday night.
A change.org petition, started by the victim’s friend and fellow classmate immediately after the incident, calls for a slate of upgrades to the crossing, including blinking lights, a stop sign and a speed bump.
The struck student was hit by a vehicle of another student at a crosswalk on Hardy Road Thursday as he was leaving choir rehearsal from the Kent Sills Band Hall. The injured student was sent to OCH Regional Medical Center for treatment and has since been released, MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said.
The petition, which has received nearly 2,000 signatures, was started by MSU student Colton Hall.
After the incident occurred, the university installed several blinking lights and speed bumps near the crosswalk and a three-way stop Friday morning, and a speed limit sign is on the way.
“At MSU President Mark Keenum’s direction early today, additional stop signs and speed bumps are being installed, and overall traffic and pedestrian rule enforcement is being reviewed,” Salter said in a written statement.
Hall said his objective for the petition was to bring awareness to the dimly lit area near the music building. He said his choir director and the rest of the music department have asked the university several times for better lighting, especially at that particular crosswalk.
“We were just trying to get (the lighting) fixed because we come out of the building at least three times a week, and it’s dark outside,” Hall said. “Any one of us in choir could’ve gotten hit, but it just happened to be the one guy.”
While the driver Thursday night indeed hit the student, Hall said he does not believe the accident was the driver’s fault because of the lack of lighting.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, the petition had over 1,900 signatures.
“It’s good to see that they implemented some of the things we wanted, but it sucks that somebody had to get hit and us starting a petition to get it done,” Hall said.
Salter said he does not know how the driver hit the student. While there is currently no information that the driver was using a cellphone at the time of the incident, Salter said generally that is the cause of occurrences such as these.
“We’ve had seven years of enrollment increases,” Salter said. “That puts more people, more cars in the same space. We have known that like other college campuses, distracted driving, distracted pedestrians are a growing problem.”
The university began a social media campaign Friday on pedestrian safety entitled “Look Up, Look Out.” Salter said the campaign seeks to educate pedestrians and drivers about the dangers of crosswalk interactions when one party or the other is not attentive.
The campaign’s first post came out Friday morning, just hours after the incident, and students, such as Hall, felt the timing was insensitive. Salter said the campaign was set to begin Friday regardless and posts were already pre-loaded.
“We had been planning for weeks for this campaign to begin Oct. 1, and it did,” Salter said. “… We are doing everything possible to keep faculty, staff, students and visitors safe. We’re certainly not interrupting the campaign. We’re going to go full speed ahead.”