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Stop for Students: Life-saving tips every driver and pedestrian should follow

Nov 6, 2023, 1:20 PM | Updated: 1:31 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — With daylight saving time ending Sunday, and daylight decreasing, the Utah Highway Patrol says Utah could be heading for an increase in auto-pedestrian crashes.

Fall and winter tend to be a troubling time of year for those kinds of crashes, as evidenced by the multiple incidents over the past month — many involving kids walking or biking to or from school.

In one case a few weeks ago, a driver hit and critically injured a 12-year-old boy as he crossed a crosswalk on Fort Union Boulevard near Bella Vista Elementary School in Cottonwood Heights after school.

On Monday morning, two crossing guards stood watch in that same spot, keeping drivers at bay as kids cautiously crossed the road.

They depend on drivers to stay alert and attentive and come to a stop.

Daycare hangs ribbons for support, awareness after multiple people hit by cars

UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden explained drivers need to be on the lookout especially as it gets darker, earlier with the end of daylight saving time.

“Make sure that your attention is on driving, and then we don’t allow distractions to creep in,” he said. “Because sometimes those distractions will cause those crashes and we don’t spot those pedestrians.”

He urged drivers to put the phone down, and don’t assume that a pedestrian is waiting for you to drive by before they cross. Stop and make eye contact with that pedestrian, he said.

For pedestrians, Roden explained people need to stick to crosswalks, grab that flag and use the signal, if there is one. This advice can apply to families and kids going to and from school, and students walking, biking or riding scooters home in the dark following afterschool activities.

Wait for cars to stop completely before crossing.

“Never assume that a driver sees you,” Roden said. “Make that eye contact with the driver before trying to cross the street.”

He also recommended investing in safety gear.

“On the pedestrian side, we need to make sure that we’re being seen as much as possible,” Roden said. “That means we’re either wearing reflective gear, or we’re making sure that we have some type of lights.”

Another point he brought up is for drivers to stay away from the road if they’re impaired or fatigued. Police believe the woman who hit the 12-year-old boy in the Cottonwood Heights crosswalk was impaired.

UHP doesn’t want people to let the lack of daylight leave their family’s safety in the dark.

“We share the roads as motorists and pedestrians together,” Roden said. “So, we need to work together to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe.”

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Stop for Students: Life-saving tips every driver and pedestrian should follow