Once upon a time, walking was considered a way to improve your health. Now-a-days, your health can be negatively affected by the hazards of a simple jaunt outdoors.
It is no longer sufficient to “look both ways” as we are taught by our parents. Instead, you have to look left, right, ahead of you, and behind you. Why? Cars that are turning corners – left or right – often do not pay attention to people in the crosswalk. Some drivers do not yield the right of way to the pedestrians even though the walk light is on. Some intersections have crossing lights. When the lights are flashing, cars are required by law to stop. However, some choose not to. At uncontrolled intersections, good luck getting a car to stop for you! My mother was struck by a car while crossing at an uncontrolled intersection. When the driver was asked why he did not yield the right of way, he said the sun was in his eyes. It used to be that you had to practice defensive driving; now you have to practice defensive walking! Being a pedestrian in an automotive world is dangerous!
I, personally, witnessed an incident where I stopped in one lane and the car in the other lane did not stop. The pedestrian was struck and hurt enough that he could not get up. He kept saying, “I want to go home” but he could not – he had to go to the hospital instead. I might have done the guy a favor if I hadn’t stopped for him; then he would not have proceeded into the street.
Cell phones and driving make for a dangerous conversation. As if talking on the phone was not diversion enough, now drivers are texting while driving! It only takes a second of distraction to result in a pedestrian getting hurt or killed. Hurtling metal meets flesh and bone; which one do you think wins? Can you hear me now? No, because I am dead!
How can we combat this issue? There are many ways. Cities can help by creating pedestrian only walkways and pedways above traffic. Walking trails are also another way that cities can help keep pedestrians safe. Police can help by providing a good example and enforcing the laws that exist today. I have, on numerous occasions, seen police cars speed through school zones; but who is going to argue with them? It only takes a few extra seconds to get through a school zone at the posted speed limit. Drivers can help by minimizing distractions and giving due care and attention to all pedestrians. Pedestrians can help by raising awareness. They can also make sure that they are making eye contact with drivers before stepping onto the road.
Being a pedestrian can be a life threatening livelihood; especially in an automotive world! Let’s try to keep everyone safe by doing our part.