Monday, September 3

Because I'm angry about almost being hit

This afternoon Hubby and I decided to take a walk. (Ok... ok... we were walking to our local watering hole to have a pint while we worked on work. It is "Labor Day" after all... Hard work deserves a freshly brewed reward. But really, our destination is not important to this story.)

We approached an intersection with a traffic light. We pressed the walk button, waited while the signal changed, and stepped out into the intersection (after looking both ways) once the signal was in our favor.

As we were crossing, not one but TWO suburban death machines cut across our path as the drivers made left hand turns through the intersection.

As the second driver nearly hit me, I threw up my arms in a "what the eff are you thinking?" stance. Kindly note that I refrained from cussing or flipping off the driver, though he thoroughly deserved both.

The driver (an older, white-haired man with a sense of entitlement) yelled out his window:
"I have a green light!"
Excuse me, Mr. Entitlement, but the law clearly states that no matter what the color of your traffic signal is, mowing down a pedestrian is not one of your god-given rights.

For that gentleman's benefit, I quote Florida Driver's Handbook, section 5.16 - Pedestrians.
5.16.1 – Safety Rules for Motorist Regarding Pedestrians
It is the motorist's responsibility to do everything possible to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Bicyclists, skaters and skateboarders in a crosswalk or driveway are considered pedestrians.
  1. Turning motorists must stop for pedestrians at intersections and driveways.
  2. Motorists must stop or yield as appropriate for pedestrians crossing the street or driveway at any marked mid-block crossing, driveway or intersection without traffic signals.
  3. Drivers must not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light. Do not stop with any portion of your vehicle overhanging the crosswalk area. Blocking a crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle, and puts them in a dangerous situation.
  4. You must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians on the sidewalk when entering or leaving an alley, driveway, or private road.
  5. Do not make a turn that causes a pedestrian to stop, slow down or make some other special effort to avoid a collision.
  6. If children are in the vicinity, take special care, because children are not fully aware of the dangers of traffic.
  7. Be respectful of others who have difficulty in crossing streets, such as elderly persons or persons with a visual disability.
Be especially observant for children in or along the roadway and be aware of pedestrians sharing the road where sidewalks are not present.
Mr. Entitlement violated, at a minimum, rules 1 and 5. But I'm certain he thinks I, the legally-crossing pedestrian, am the problem.

Of course he thinks so. After all, he yelled as much to me out the window. His internal combustion engine "deserves" the right to the road, regardless of how many of my tax dollars go into paving and painting the pedestrian crosswalk. He deserves his hurry-hurry to his destination, regardless of whether or not he put my life (and Hubby's!) in danger. His use of the road trumps mine because, quite frankly, his safety was never in danger. And, sadly, Mr. Entitlement will probably go to his grave thinking he has the right-of-way. Orlando, a much larger city, with far more pedestrians, only started ticketing crosswalk-violating drivers with a $164 fine for the first time last month.

Is it any wonder that Florida has the nation's highest pedestrian fatality rate?

Each year more than 2,500 Florida pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents, and the fatality rate (2.55 per 100,000 population) is nearly double the national average.

This infuriates me.

As runners, hikers, bikers, and general get-outsider-ers, I'm sure readers of this blog have plenty of their own tales to tell of drivers-gone-berserk...

I say it's time we take back the streets with a campaign of pedestrian awareness. I don't mean a "critical mass" of runners and walkers (it's been tried and has had mixed reviews). But what about posters and bumper stickers that say:
"Responsible drivers yield for pedestrians"
"It's right and it's law: yield for peds and bikes"
When the law is ignored, and bones won't withstand the impact of a Suburban, peer pressure and shame might be our only hope.

What's your worst car vs. pedestrian tale?
What slogan would you want to see on a pro-pedestrian bumper sticker?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Penny for your thoughts?