Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Worry. They'll Stop

I often say that in jest to people I see waiting to cross the street: "Don't worry. Go ahead and cross. They'll stop.", referring to the cars driving by. I guess I shouldn't joke about that as so many people do it anyway.

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat reports a four your old boy was hit in a crosswalk in Santa Rosa while in crossing the street with his mother. At least one car stopped. I guess that made them feel all was well and they could cross the street without further worrying about traffic. Except a guy in one lane didn't stop and hit the kid. He died from his injuries.

That sounds pretty much like the one- armed man who got killed crossing in the crosswalk on 4th Street in Eureka a few years ago. The traffic in all lanes but one stopped. He starts crossing, figures everything is ok, and doesn't keep his eye on the incoming traffic. One car doesn't stop and hits him. He's dead.

I see this time and time again in Eureka: People take a look. It looks ok, so they cross. While they're crossing the street they just look straight ahead or down at the ground. I see it ALL THE TIME!

We can blame who or whatever we want for these tragic accidents but, bottom line is, they all could have prevented if the person crossing the street keeps his eye out for oncoming traffic all the time, not just when he first steps into the street.


At 8:26 AM, Anonymous skippy said...

In one of the towns to the south of us, perhaps Cloverdale, I was meandering down the pleasant sidewalk looking down at the ground.

Coming to a corner of the intersection were stenciled letters on the cement. They read, LOOK UP AND LIVE, effectively jogging my thoughts back to the awareness of my surroundings.

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's risky for a car to stop at one of those cross walks in Eureka that don't have a light just because he sees someone waiting to cross. Cars in the other lanes might not know what is going on, thinking he is just going to turn or something. Next thing you know someone is stepping out in front of you.

Where is that plan to have the freeway bypass Eureka? It's a shame it didn't happen.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Skippy wrote, I was meandering down the pleasant sidewalk looking down at the ground..

Maybe it's because I don't get the chance to walk around town that much but, when I do, I suppose I'm fortunate that I enjoy looking at and listening to my surroundings as I'm walking.

I'll never understand those that feel they have to listen to music, talk on a cellphone or read a book while taking a walk.

9:25 wrote, "I think it's risky for a car to stop at one of those cross walks in Eureka that don't have a light just because he sees someone waiting to cross..

I agree, and I prefer they don't stop for me. I don't want them to have another car hit them and I don't mind waiting for traffic to clear.

While I appreciate the Good Neighbor attitude that leads some to stop at sometimes ridiculously unsafe times, I think that attitude likely contributes to the problem.

I recall a few years ago driving down Henderson Street in Eureka towards the Eureka Mall. I was a couple blocks east of the mall with the housing projects to my left.

I could see two or three guys standing in the middle of the block. They weren't even at the corner. They were on the curb in the middle of the block watching for a safe time to cross, I guess.

I noticed them up ahead but paid little attention. The car just ahead of me in the right lane (who I think I recognized) decides to be Mr. Helpful and suddenly stops in the middle of the block to let the guys cross the street.

I wasn't sure what was happening as it happened so fast and I jammed on my breaks to stop, too. Then I realize he was just stopping to let the two guys cross. At the same time I'm wondering if I'm going to get slammed into from behind since I stopped so quick. Totally bad move on his part, as far as I was concerned.

If he'd have stopped for someone that would have just walked across the street without looking further, and someone else was in my place that hadn't stopped, they would have been hit. That's not the first time I've seen something like that happen.

I never did bring it up to the elderly couple that stopped first when I saw them later. They probably wouldn't understand what the problem was.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, that's your ugly libertarian-ness raising it's head again. How dare you suggest the parent look out for ALL lanes of traffic? Obviously what we need is a law that punishes the driver. And just to make sure it passes, we'll name it after the dead kid!

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Ernie Branscomb said...

In the British Isles the crosswalks are labeled: "Traffic from your right". It is truly strange trying to cross the street with the cars driving on the wrong side of the road. I'm sure that the signs have saved a lot of American lives.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger beachcomber said...

I recall driving on I Street when a girl heading to the high school stepped off the curb. I stopped as did the person in the left lane. I looked in my mirror to see a car in the right lane, approaching at speed without ever slowing down as he passed up stopped at the intersection. I doubt the girl ever realized how close she came and never looked up though one would have thought she would have heard my screaming from inside my car. I was sure I was going to witness her flying through the air - she probably thought I was singing. It shook me up so much, I wrote an open letter to the editor to the guy who almost hit her and to the students who cross H and I Streets regularly.

We need those flags pedestrians in Japan carry when crossing the street. Could be fun AND save lives.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree with 9:25 that people should not step into a non stop light area.

I have had a person step off the curb and start trying to walk across the street when I was about 5 feet away when I was going the speed limit (maybe 30 mph) and had to luckly swerve into another lane and keep going to miss hitting him.

Today I had a person starting to walk across the street but they were watching traffic and did not get in front of lots of traffic and probably waited till it was more clear to cross. I don't think you should get a "pass" just because you step off the curb in front of a line of traffic in different lanes as that is the issue here. If I want to cross 4th or 5th street without a traffic light I wait for traffic to clear for a space if I am not on a light but usually only cross on a traffic light on those streets. Maybe we should have the same things painted on streets without lights as a lot of people just start off with no thought about traffic with their ear phones in.


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