By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
EXETER – Students no longer need to dangerously dash across the highway to get to downtown for lunch anymore. There is a much safer, and noticeable, option available, and just over a year in the making.
Until recently students at Exeter High School could either walk past Palm to cross one of Exeter’s notoriously difficult intersections, or cross at the street light on Rocky Hill Drive. But thanks to some steadfast work by Assistant Principal Ken Stoval, students now have a much more convenient place to safely cross the street.
According superintendent George Eddy, Stoval made contact with CalTrans approximately a year and a half ago about a crosswalk at the San Juan, Highway 65 intersection. Eddy said that the crosswalk was designated when CalTrans repaved the road last year. The largest concern then was how to get drivers to recognize when students are in the crosswalk. At that point the school district decided to add blinking lights to the crosswalk signs on both sides of the highway.
“We’ve always been worried [for the kids’ safety] and cars are going left and right and we wanted to make sure it was brought up to the safety committee that we wanted the blinking lights,” Eddy said.
The district funded and installed their own lights, and from a safety perspective, Exeter city manager Adam Ennis said it has helped. He noted that because drivers don’t typically pay as much attention to the left and right sides of street when they are not in an intersection it is helpful to have the blinking lights on the signs. Better yet, Ennis also said that it is helpful to only have the lights going when students are using the crosswalk.
“If the lights are blinking all the time then they will become numb to it and won’t notice it anymore,” Ennis said.
Eddy said that as a driver, the blinking crosswalk lights put him on alert, even though he knew the crosswalk was there all along.
“It has helped out a lot, and in all honesty even when I’m driving I notice the crosswalk a lot more, like when the lights are blinking,” Eddy.
More than just convenience for students, the District feels a weight has been lifted off their shoulders now that students can directly cross the highway safely.
“It does put our mind at ease because it gives them another reason to hit the light so they will cross the crosswalk,” Eddy said.
Eddy added that the same crosswalk signs with blinking lights have been installed at the Lincoln and Rocky Hill elementary schools as well. Because those students are younger, Eddy says the signs have been helpful, and relieved some worry on the side of the school sites.