UVM students’ research finds campus drivers frequently run lights, fail to stop for pedestrians

Local News

BURLINGTON, Vt. – A group of students at the University of Vermont are hoping their recent work to investigate unsafe driving around campus will bring about changes to protect pedestrians.

The five students went to the busiest intersections on campus, pointed their cameras, and used the photos they gathered of drivers running red lights and failing to stop for pedestrians as the launch point for their research.

Avery Anderson stood by the intersection of University Heights and Main Street for an hour. It’s considered the busiest intersection on campus, and it’s also among the busiest intersections in Vermont.

“It was funny, because I set up and I was just kind of waiting, then I realized a car ran a red light nearly every single cycle,” Anderson said. “It was not difficult to get those photos. I got around 50 photos in an hour.”

In total, they counted 133 dangerous interactions at that intersection in the span of an hour. 92 additional incidents were found at other intersections, including Prospect and Main Street and Prospect and Pearl Street.

“One of the faculty members here, Richard Watts, has done traffic studies on these intersections before and hasn’t gotten much a response from UVM,” said Alannah Kemple, another student researcher. “So, we decided we should do it again.”

Between 2012 and 2018, 105 crashes occurred at the intersection of University Heights and Main Street. Since 2016, it’s been designated as a high crash location by the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

“It’s been an ongoing problem for many years now and UVM has just kind of put it on the backburner, because it seems like not enough people have cared,” Anderson said.

Improving safety is the students’ ultimate goal, but as Anderson said, the first hurdle is increased awareness.

“We’re actually hoping to gain attention from UVM and the Burlington community and hopefully get some change enacted,” Kemple said. “I’m sure they’ll have to do their own traffic studies, but I think just making it a safer situation for students is our main priority for this.”

Data for the study was collected by an Energy Alternatives class at UVM, and the report was written by students Avery Anderson, Alannah Kemple, Brigid Rose, Phil Williams, and Christopher Williamson.

Requests for comment from UVM and the City of Burlington were not successful at the time of this article’s publishing, and it will be updated if additional perspectives are shared.

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