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Pedestrian accidents high in 2011

Ashley Laughlin, For The Miami Student

Have you ever almost been struck by a vehicle while crossing High Street? If you answer yes, you are not alone.

According to police records, there have already been three on-campus accidents involving pedestrians in 2011, as well as three incidents in 2010.

A pedestrian was hit on Patterson Avenue near Western Drive March 4, resulting in a fractured skull. March 29, a pedestrian was hit near the Engineering Building on High Street. Most recently, a student was struck by a moving vehicle near Shriver Center in front of Western Drive April 14.

For what seems like an alarming number of incidents in a relatively short period of time, Lt. Ben Spilman of the Miami University Police Department says accidents like these do not occur often. According to Spilman, it is hard to statistically determine the number of accidents involving pedestrians that happen on a monthly or yearly basis because the numbers are so low.

Spilman said accidents involving pedestrians are relatively rare considering there is a U.S. state route and another major road that dump into the heart of campus. With heavy pedestrian, bike and car traffic, it is actually surprising that accidents like these do not occur more often.

Spilman said there is "usually an element of inattention" involved with the accidents, which could be the fault of the driver, the pedestrian or both.

Spilman said the cause of the accident can be very hard to determine. Witness observation is taken into consideration as well as if the pedestrian was crossing at a crosswalk or a high traffic area, for example.

Accidents such as these are "very situational," Spilman said.

Sgt. Jim Squance, with the Oxford Police Department, spoke about penalties.

"Oh wow, there's numerous penalties," Squance said. He agreed the accidents are very situational.

Lt. Spilman gave some situational examples in regards to pedestrian-car accidents. If the driver is at fault, the citation could include failing to yield to a pedestrian. If the pedestrian is at fault, their citation could be for jaywalking. According to Ohio law, both of these citations are considered a minor misdemeanor offense.

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The university does not administer a penalty for those involved in the accident. However, Squance said there is an exception when drugs or alcohol are involved. He said the university will be notified of the incident and those responsible could be cited with a drug or alcohol violation.

The Oxford Police Department is investigating the pedestrian accidents that have occurred this year. Squance said for such a small, close-in-proximity town with such a high number of vehicles, bikes and pedestrian traffic, accidents such as these are rare. However, Spilman said one is too many.

"We don't want to see any pedestrians injured," he said.

He said the department is always looking for ways to minimize accidents such as these.