Students question Pine Street’s safety after driver hits student

A+car+speeds+across+the+Pine+Street+bridge+between+Lion+Drive+and+Circular+Road.

Treasure Franklin | Staff Photographer

A car speeds across the Pine Street bridge between Lion Drive and Circular Road.

A University of North Alabama student was hit by a vehicle on Pine Street on Friday, Sept. 9. This is the second time there has been an accident of this nature on Pine Street within one year.  

At 2:30 p.m., a student crossed North Pine Street between Lion Drive and Circular Road, a location where there is no crosswalk. The driver involved in the accident was unable to stop in time to prevent a collision. 

In the police report obtained by The Flor-Ala, the driver of the vehicle turned northbound onto North Pine Street from Oakview Circle. She was looking southbound for approaching traffic and then began to make her turn onto North Pine Street.  

The driver told police she never saw the pedestrian in the roadway. She then heard her vehicle hit the pedestrian and saw the pedestrian come up onto the front of her vehicle. The driver swerved slightly left and the pedestrian fell to the passenger side of her vehicle.  

When the officer from university police arrived on the scene, he saw the pedestrian laying in the street on her left side, crying.  

Emergency Medical Services and the Florence Fire Department arrived and took over medical aid for the pedestrian. EMS transported the pedestrian to be airlifted to Huntsville Hospital.  

The driver of the car had a dent in the hood of her vehicle where the pedestrian had struck.  

There are no crosswalks where the pedestrian attempted to cross Pine Street. 

According to the police report obtained by The Flor-Ala, the pedestrian crossed Pine Street between Lion Drive and Circular Road. (Bre Goodwin | Graphic Designer)

“The University of North Alabama takes very seriously the health and well-being of the campus community,” said University Media and Public Relations Director Michelle Eubanks. “Pedestrians are asked to adhere to the designated crossing areas of all roadways that surround the campus, and speed is closely monitored by the University Police as well as the Florence Police Department. When accidents occur, it provides an opportunity to further evaluate the safety measures in place and ensure that appropriate action is taken, if needed.”  

A year prior, on Sept. 28, 2021, at 1:03 p.m., a similar incident occurred. A student used the crosswalk to traverse the intersection of North Pine Street and West Irvine Street. A driver accidentally collided with the student, according to the narrative The Flor-Ala obtained from the Florence Police Department.  

Florence Police reported that the driver was traveling east on West Irvine Avenue and made a left turn onto North Pine Street. She also failed to see the pedestrian in the crosswalk.  

The driver of the vehicle struck the pedestrian with her front bumper, then came to a stop approximately five yards from the point of impact. The pedestrian was also airlifted to Huntsville Hospital for treatment.  

These accidents were not the first time safety has been a concern on Pine Street. A 2020 study commissioned by UNA and the City of Florence highlighted pedestrian safety as one of Pine Street’s main challenges. The study gathered crash records from January 2015 to December 2019. 

“Over the 5-year analysis period, a total of 294 crashes were recorded along Pine Street, an average of 59 crashes per year,” the study said.  

As part of the study, Florence residents shared perceived strengths and challenges along Pine Street. Pedestrian safety was identified as the top challenge.  

The study notes that there are not enough mid-block crosswalks nor bike lanes. Cars disregard pedestrians’ right of way, and there is a severe lack of pedestrian push buttons. In addition to this, the study reported that the sidewalks are too close to the road, and drivers experience blind spots due to the hilly terrain, making it hard to see when pedestrians are crossing the street.  

Due to these driving and safety hazards, students are concerned about the well-being of both drivers and pedestrians along Pine Street.  

Student Kimberly Estes said she has noticed that a lot of the crosswalk signals on Pine Street are not accurate.  

“Right here [by Norton Auditorium] earlier today, I almost got hit. I went in time with the traffic lights, so it wasn’t me [crossing out of time],” Estes said. “It needs to be fixed. Students should pay more attention. I get that we’re college students, and sometimes we don’t care or don’t watch, but everyone needs to [pay more attention] for safety reasons.”  

Student Meagan Nesbitt proposed adding more crosswalks and stop signs to help students get where they are going safely on the busy street. 

Student Baxter Halder pointed out that the lack of crosswalks as well as students’ busy schedules lead to students crossing the street unsafely.  

“I wish on Pine Street–right across from the Art Building–there was a crosswalk,” Halder said. “I know crosswalks are only supposed to be by stoplights, but maybe they should be put in places where it makes it easier for students. It’s kind of pointless, if there’s a parking lot over there, but your class is over here [at the Art Building], that you should have to go all the way around campus to get to class. I know a lot of students cross right through Pine Street, not using the crosswalks. I think they should [implement more safety measures]. They should keep an eye on the students. If you pay attention to a lot of vehicles, they’re not really doing the speed limit they should be doing.”