Crossing the street 101

Karen S. Spangler

Managing Editor

A young Sailor was struck by a vehicle as he crossed the street while in the crosswalk in front of the Fleet Store on Pearl Harbor Boulevard on the morning of April 2. Luckily, his injuries weren’t life threatening, although he sustained a broken right arm, broken right leg and lacerations to the right elbow.

This came as no surprise to me. In fact, I have been expecting it-it was just a matter of time.

On any given day, at any crosswalk at joint base, you may see pedestrians waiting to cross the street as drivers ignore the crosswalks and continue driving without stopping. In some instances, you may also see drivers talking on their cell phones while driving-even though the use of cell phones while driving has been illegal both on and off base for years.

Crossing the street safely should be a no brainer. If you’re a driver, waiting for pedestrians to cross the street in the crosswalk should be a no brainer. So why isn’t it? Maybe it’s time for a refresher course. Let’s call it crossing the street 101.

If you are a driver, and you see a pedestrian waiting at the crosswalk to cross or, even more importantly, a pedestrian is already in the crosswalk, stop! Don’t try to play Frogger with the pedestrian.

Don’t blast your horn at them to hurry. Just wait patiently until they cross the street-even if it is an elderly person with a walker who is extremely slow.

Pay attention when you are driving. Sitting behind the wheel of thousands of pounds of steel while cruising down the street is a huge responsibility. That’s what your focus should be. In the split second that you look away to adjust the radio or the AC, rummage through your purse, or do whatever else it is that drivers sometimes do while driving is all the time it takes to miss some important details-such as the pedestrian who is trying to safely cross the street. So pay attention.

Now just because the posted speed limit is 25 mph or 30 mph or whatever, it does-n’t mean that you have to achieve that speed limit. Your visibility might be a little hampered, maybe because of rain or other weather conditions.

Visibility at dusk and dawn is also reduced, and it might be difficult to see pedestrians crossing the street if they are wearing dark clothing instead of light clothing. Take all of these things into consideration and adjust your speed accordingly.

The responsibility isn’t totally on the driver. Pedestrians also need to practice rules of good common sense and safety.

From an early age, I was taught to look both ways before crossing the street. That rule still holds true. Not only should pedestrians look both ways before crossing the street, but also they should continue to pay attention to approaching drivers. Does the driver see you? Is he going to stop for you, or is he going to try to beat you across the crosswalk?

At intersections where drivers can turn right on red, keep in mind that many drivers never completely stop, although they are supposed to completely stop unless signage indicates otherwise. Some drivers treat the right turn on red like a moving green.

That brings up another situation. Drivers run red lights. Even if you have the right of way, that isn’t going to be much consolation as the ambulance races to the hospital with you, the victim of a driver who didn’t yield.

Frequently-and it seems to be happening more and more-pedestrians cross the street totally inattentive to drivers. They are talking on their cell phones, talking to other people, staring into space deep in thought- totally oblivious to oncoming traffic.

Do they not care? Are they silly enough to think that drivers are going to follow all of the traffic laws and stop? Good luck with that one!

So if you are a pedestrian, you have a responsibility to keep yourself safe. Be alert, be careful, and don’t even think of playing chicken with the drivers.

Now, what it all boils down to is common sense and courtesy. The rules of the road for both drivers and pedestrians demand it. We need to look out for ourselves, and for each other.

If you’re a driver, the life you save may be that of a pedestrian. If you’re a pedestrian, the life you save might be your own.

Crossing the street 101 – easy! (We welcome comments from readers. If you have comments, please send them to: Karen.spangler@navy.mil.)

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Category: NewsWindow on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam