Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Headed Off, Heads Up, or Losing Their Heads?

Each morning I let out Shanti, my husky mix, feed Kira and Tawny, my cats, make coffee, shower, dress, gather my work materials for school (armed with lots of coffee), and head outside to the car.

Shanti will be there, whining. Since she was a puppy, she got some canned dog food as a “treat” to counter her anxiety about my leaving for the day. Now she demands it. As I tip-toe my way down the steps, over the coils of her leads, out to my car, she dances around me, her actions threatening to tangle me in the lead as I strive to haul my bags and laptop safely. She jumps as high as my shoulders, and lately, runs around me and ahead to place herself in my path, heading me off just in case that after four years of feeding her every morning, this will be the morning I forget if she doesn’t press the point. Bit annoying, actually.

Fifteen minutes later I will drive through the village of Cazenovia. Signs prominently posted remind drivers to give the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk entering from either lane. Unfortunately, many pedestrians see this as a license to jaywalk, simply walking out into traffic at any point, expecting traffic to see them and stop. Even pedestrians in proper crosswalks step out from the curb abruptly, walking out in front of a car six feet away, expecting it to stop. After all, it’s their right.

What are they thinking? This goes far beyond attitude. Even drivers crawling along at 15-20 m.p.h. can’t stop that fast—and even when they try, as some do, cars behind them are likely to rear end them. Most pedestrians are also drivers—surely they must know that drivers can’t see and respond to people rushing into the road suddenly at any point, ESPECIALLY around dawn and dusk.

But then, plenty of drivers race around fellow drivers, cut them off, pull out suddenly in front of them, all to accomplish little more than irrational displays of impatience and arrogance.

I’m reminded of a movie I saw in class as a child. Without looking, a pedestrian properly stepped into an intersection in front of an unseen car, exercising right of way. The movie’s title? “Dead
Right.” Doing that for SEEN traffic just seems stupid.



J Carlo said...

Professor, i know exactly how you feel with pedestrians walking out whenever they want to. I work in Manhattan, and when i drive to and from work, i have todeal with at least 50 cases of people walking,running, and or jogging across either the street or avenue. I almost hit a man walking across the street knowing i have a green light. These people think they r invincible sometimes until they actually get hit. And it happens all the time in the city. it's ignorrance is what it is. Sadly to say tho, everyone who drives in a semi populated area feels that way. IF they are in a car they rule the road. And when they walk,they think drivers have to let them cross. it boggles mym ind sometimes.

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Two Write Hands said...

That's why you get more points for hitting a pedestrian who's actually running away from a vehicle. ;)