Walking to School Safer


Nick Epple and Luke Wilson

In an average school year, over 100 kids are killed while walking to and from school. About half of those kids are over 15. In addition to the 100 deaths, according to the Transportation Research Board, an additional 25,000 children are injured.


I was fortunate to be on the lighter side of the 25,000 children that are injured.


Here’s my story: I get to the crosswalk in front of Circle K like I had done everyday before. I hit the button twice to make sure the walk sign would come up like I had done everyday before. I was wearing a light blue hoodie that could be easily seen, even in the semi-darkness. I start my walk to school and by the time I got to the second turning lane, I was on the hood of a car. Before I knew it, 911 was called and I was on the way to the hospital with a low ankle sprain. I was lucky that’s all I came out of the hospital bed with.


I was certainly luckier than Madi Beare Jones, who was hit in the crosswalk between West and the library last spring before school. She ended up in the hospital for months with several broken bones, including her pelvis, shoulder, and arm.


That’s why walking to school needs to become safer for everyone. Even two months after the accident, I am still traumatized by the event and am unable to walk to school. No kid my age, either older or younger than me, should have to feel what it’s like to get hit by a car. While in the moment, the events and impact occurred in slow motion; they now feel like a blur. The few agonizing moments of helplessness on the road as you come to grips with what just occurred are feelings I will never forget.


The simple truth is that 100 kids being killed on their way to school annually is far too many.  There are ways we can make it safer so each year 25,000 other students don’t have to experience what I have. Here are just a few.


Crossing Guard. The school’s biggest priority is to keep the kids safe no matter what. Paying a little extra to ensure the safety of your students would go a long way to prevent a lot of these accidents in the parking lot or on busy streets with crosswalks.


More signs. People don’t always look at the crosswalk next to them or notice the walk sign across the street. Adding an additional sign can save lives and create a safer experience for many students such as myself. 


More street lamps in the morning. I was hit in the morning so perhaps the driver didn’t see me (though she should have been paying attention). Adding additional lights to some darker streets or adding lights on sidewalks in order to make walkers at the crosswalk more visible would be a huge step in the right direction. 


There are many ways in which we can create a safer, more suitable atmosphere for walkers, students, and runners around the Lakota West campus. A few more signs or more awareness goes a long way in saving lives and ensuring no unnecessary trips to the Emergency Room.