Letters: Being ‘dead right’

Letter writer says it is important to be a defensive pedestrian

Your Nov. 14 editorial “Crosswalks are dangerous” provides a telling insight into some of the reasons why so many are injured when crossing roads. Your comments speak to the naive and oft-misunderstood concepts related to interactions between pedestrians and drivers.

Spend a few minutes observing behaviour at a busy  intersection or a high school crosswalk and you’ll quickly find yourself wondering why more accidents don’t occur at these high risk sites. You know the example: dark clothing, ears plugged in, head down, twiddling away on a device – or head up, staring straight ahead, striding purposefully across the road the instant they arrive or press the button. They might as well hold up a sign: ‘I have the right of way – I dare you to hit me.’ In nature the process of natural selection usually takes care of those that take frequent risks. Sooner or later the inevitable happens. Unfortunate – yes. Hard reality – unfortunately.

Arguably there may be as many good drivers on the road as poor drivers. There is a likelihood that sooner or later every good driver gets distracted,  sometimes at intersections or crosswalks. As a pedestrian are you prepared to put life and limb at risk merely to exercise your right to cross the road at will?

More light, signs, and paint will help a little but it shouldn’t give the illusion of any greater confidence or security when crossing the road. It remains dangerous because our frail little bodies are no match for the mass of an oncoming vehicle should it hit you. All the lights, signs, and paint in the world are of little consequence if the driver of the oncoming vehicle has (inexcusably) not seen you.

A little common sense can save much grief. Take a second to look at the driver of the oncoming vehicle and establish eye contact. If they didn’t plan to stop you can sometimes even stare them down. When you’ve made eye contact and see that the driver sees you and intends to stop you have established effective communication. It’s a good start before you consider stepping out into traffic. It only takes a moment but it could change your life profoundly. Don’t be ‘dead right’.

E. Boucher

Sooke