Defensive walking: Help drivers see you | Letter

Have you seen or even acted as a driver who looks attentively at cars coming from the left side while totally ignores pedestrians on the right side when turning right during red?

I saw one this afternoon right after a bunch of elementary school students got off their school bus stop. Along with a few other young girls, my daughter stopped at the intersection of Northeast 8th Street and 140th Avenue Northeast and waited patiently for the pedestrian walk signal. The walk signal turned on and those girls started crossing the street followed by a bunch of adults including me. Meanwhile, a car behind that very same crosswalk started moving toward those girls. The driver wanted to turn right and she was only focused on cars coming from her left side. Those young pedestrians plus all others were not in her view nor on her mind at all. Fortunately, that car was moving at a slow speed. One kid was even able to dart away from the car’s trajectory. I held up one palm after yelling out aloud. That got the driver’s attention. And she stopped in time before anything happened.

As you can imagine, I was very upset. It’s totally drivers’ responsibility to yield to pedestrians during pedestrian walk signals. But I felt that I was able to help by grabbing the driver’s attention. And she seemed really sorry; somehow, I knew that this driver would see pedestrians better when driving in the future. Even better, I asked the girls one question afterwards: why you need to watch out for cars even when it is your turn to cross the street. Their answers were spot on.

Everyone can help and below are three techniques for defensive walking, aka, pedestrian safety:

• Diligently practice “Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again.” And that means everyone whether you drive or walk;

• As a pedestrian, help drivers see you. You can achieve this goal by establishing eye contact, waving at drivers, wearing bright colored clothing, or doing all above; and

• While walking, crossing the street or not, look up from your smart phone because if you don’t care to watch out for yourself, nobody else can be counted on in doing that.

Lei Wu