Purdue to study 'near-fatal' transportation trend on campus

EMS averages about five calls per week that range from basic first aid to severe bodily injury. As of Tuesday, the Purdue Fire Department had already handled two calls involving PEVs this week.

Posted: Dec 11, 2019 6:46 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue is trying to get control of a "near-fatal" trend happening on campus sidewalks. The university says they could do anything from nothing at all, to a complete ban of personal electric vehicles.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels has launched a task force to study how, or if, the university should regulate the vehicles. 

"There have been enough problems and injuries that I think it's right to ask the questions," said Daniels.

Freshman Bruno Quintaes is part of a fast growing, and fast moving, trend on Purdue's campus. He bought a motorized skateboard to get to class quicker. 

"During the morning lectures, you don't want to do much exercise," said Quintaes. "With me on it, it can go maybe 17 miles per hour."

However there is also a growing safety issue from the PEVs. Purdue police report more than a dozen serious crashes involving the vehicles since August.

"When there is an accident, at 20 or 25 miles per hour, like for instance on a skateboard, it's often a serious one," said Daniels. "We almost lost a student two or three weeks ago."

On Nov. 18, a student fell off his motorized skateboard near Tarkington Hall. Purdue Fire Chief Kevin Ply said EMS took him to the hospital with a severe head injury.

Ply described another crash this semester where a student and a professor, who were both on PEVs, crashed into each other. At the time, Ply said both people thought they were fine and EMS was not called. The professor later had trouble breathing and a co-worker took them to the hospital. Ply said the professor was then flown to Indianapolis and had to be put in intensive care. 

One student Ply talked to claimed he had modified his electric skateboard to go up to 52 miles per hour.

Ply said EMS averages about five calls per week that range from basic first aid to severe bodily injury. As of Tuesday, the Purdue Fire Department had already handled two calls involving PEVs this week. 

The task force will look at policies for electric vehicles, but also how it could apply to non-powered vehicles like bicycles, too.

Helmet requirements, added speed limits, restricted hours, or even a ban of the PEVs are all being considered. Quintes is protecting himself before he gets hurt.

"The only thing I'm going to buy is going to be a bike helmet," said Quintes. "In my opinion, that's very important."

As far as the student critically injured, he has been released from the hospital and is currently in a care facility.

"A full recovery is expected, but it won't be quick," said Daniels.

The task force includes students, administrators, Purdue police and fire, and the City of West Lafayette. It will present its findings to the University Senate.

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