IUK Crossing Lights.jpg

Cars stop for students crossing to the Annex apartments on Washington Street across from IUK. Students activate the crossing lights that drivers have to stop for.

Indiana University Kokomo is asking drivers on Washington Street to remember the reduced speed limit and be cautious of students crossing the street.

The speed limit is 30 mph on the stretch of Washington Street that passes by both the campus’ west side, as well Maple Crest Middle School to the south.

However, most drivers don’t go 30 mph, according to IUK Police Chief Thomas Remender.

“We’re finding people going pretty consistently 40 and 55 (mph),” he said.

Remender admitted it can be hard to maintain the lower speed, but it is needed given the proximity to multiple schools, as well as for college students who cross the street from The Annex.

The police chief said he also thinks the crosswalk and light might confuse some drivers.

The city installed a HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crosswalk) light, or beacon last year that cycles through when a pedestrian pushes a button on either side of the crosswalk.

These pedestrian traffic lights are common in bigger cities but can be a new experience for area drivers, especially since they are only functional when activated.

When activated, the light will flash yellow, serving as a caution light.

The HAWK light will then turn red, which is when pedestrians are allowed to cross. Drivers must come to a complete stop.

The light will then flash red for a period of time. Drivers can pass through after coming to a stop first. This is similar to a flashing red light in rural areas, Remender said.

“We’re getting some folks still confused by that,” he said.

The IUK police department handles patrolling the area. However, local and state law enforcement agencies do as well.

Remender said they are watching the area to ensure drivers adhere to the speed limit.

But don’t expect a ticket if you forget about the reduced speed.

Remender said a traffic stop is likely to result in just a warning. Only after multiple warnings will a ticket be issued.

“We really want to educate,” he said. “It’s not about writing tickets. We’re trying to get self-compliance.”

The crosswalk has only been operational for about a year. The police chief said students also need to learn to use the crossing correctly. He said students sometimes push the button and cross right away.

“We’re trying to educate them to use the light and let it cycle through to help them cross safely,” Remender said.

The police chief said the addition of sidewalks have helped make the area safer for pedestrians, especially those who walk to nearby stores like Kroger.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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