CANYON, TX (KFDA) - The West Texas A&M University Police Department is now partnering with Canyon Police Department and the Department of Public Safety to enforce 'Operation SafeWalk.'
This partnership is the first of its kind within Canyon and officials are hoping this team work will reduce or eliminate pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
"We are going to be enforcing the use of crosswalks," said Sergeant Jack Hildebrand, WT University Police Department. "We have busy roads around here with 4th and 23rd and Russell Long Boulevard, they are state routes. So, we want to make sure that people use the crosswalks for their safety and on the flip side we want to make sure that vehicles and drivers yield to pedestrians."
A Highway Safety report released shows that Texas is 1 of 4 states that account for 41 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
Pedestrians also account for 12 percent of all deaths in motor vehicle crashes.
"People see pedestrian accidents but they are never reported to us," says Sergeant Hildebrand. "We have certainly seen accidents, we had a student that was hit in a crosswalk last year and we have had some near misses where a student or pedestrian has been clipped by a vehicle. We don't want to get to the point were we are seeing a tragedy."
The academic year is the busiest time for pedestrian activity as students walk to campus and on Aug. 30, the agencies kicked off their first day of Operation SafeWalk.
For the first 2 weeks law enforcement will give out warnings and educate pedestrians about the more strict enforcement.
"The reason why we have the educational phase is to give everybody an opportunity to learn before we start enforcement," said Hildebrand.
Beginning Sept.13, all 3 agencies will begin an enforcement phase where they will begin issuing citations rather than giving off warnings.
Pedestrians are reminded to not suddenly leave the safety of curbs as it makes it impossible for a vehicle to yield immediately.
The university has also repainted their crosswalks and added signs in hopes to keep students safe.
If they do not follow the crosswalk laws it could come with a hefty price.