It should be harder for drivers on the UConn Health campus to miss crosswalks, now that new, flashing signs are in place.
They’re designed to improve safety, with the blinking element intended to make it easier for drivers to identify an upcoming crosswalk and advise them to prepare to stop for pedestrians. This can be especially helpful at night or when weather conditions reduce visibility.
“They are meant to capture the driver’s attention and minimizing distracted driving through the crosswalk,” says UConn Deputy Police Chief Maggie Silver. “Any tools that we implement to get the attention of drivers and keep our crosswalk user safe is a win for the community. These are a great example of how several departments’ collaboration culminated in enhancing safety and in improving the walkability of our campus.”
Two departments —facilities development and operations (which oversees campus planning) and administrative support services (which oversees parking and transportation) — drove the concept, with the support of campus safety.
The new signs come with additional bonuses of being cheaper to install and environmentally friendly. They have their own solar panels.
“The solar powered signs are substantially more affordable than the hard-wired signs, mostly due to the labor costs associated with trenching and wiring permanent power to the signs,” says Eric Kruger, UConn Health’s vice president for facilities development and operations.
The new solar signs include two stop signs at Lower Campus Drive and Shuttle Road, two stop signs on Academic Way at the crosswalk for Lot A-5, two stop signs on UConn Health Boulevard at the crosswalk from Garage 1, a stop sign before the right turn toward the Munson Road exit, and a pedestrian sign along the Munson Road entrance, where stopping is not required before turning.
“It’s carbon-neutral technology that helps emphasize the importance for drivers to pay attention and to stay on the lookout for pedestrians on our campus,” says Kruger, who also leads UConn Health’s sustainability working group.
Crosswalk safety is a shared responsibility. Silver offers these reminders:
- Always look out for pedestrians, not just at intersections.
- Slow down and prepare to stop any time you approach a crosswalk.
- Exercise extreme caution in low visibility conditions, such as at night or in heavy fog.
- Always, always, yield to pedestrians navigating crosswalks.
- Please take the extra steps and cross at designated crosswalks or intersections.
- Remember, driver visibility could be hindered by low light conditions, fog, or rain. Increase your visibility by wearing light colored clothing or by using a light.
- Always watch traffic and if possible, make eye contact with the driver. It will help you determine if the driver sees you or they are distracted.
- Many vehicles have blind spots. Make sure you are seen by using the walk signals at many of the crosswalks.
“Crosswalks are supposed to signal a safe crossing location, but that only happens when both pedestrians and drivers are mindful of this safety feature,” Silver says.