Pedes­trian safety in a care­less, dis­tracted world

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION - By Ta­mara Wolk Cor­re­spon­dent

Last month was an aw­ful one for school bus stop ac­ci­dents. Two young boys in Colquitt County, Ge­or­gia, were hit by a car as they crossed a street to board a school bus. One boy was killed and the other in­jured.

Then nearly on top of that tragedy, three sib­lings were killed by a car at a school bus stop in In­di­ana and a fourth child was in­jured.

In Lake­view on Hal­loween, two adults on foot were struck and in­jured by a car that ran off the road.

Ev­ery day, hun­dreds of peo­ple in Ca­toosa County and its cities ven­ture out on foot for one rea­son or an­other. Chil­dren walk to bus stops and school. Some peo­ple may not have cars, oth­ers may walk, jog or run for plea­sure or ex­er­cise. Chil­dren run to friends’ houses. An el­derly per­son step­ping into the road to check their mail is a com­mon sight.

Even walk­ing from a ve­hi­cle to a store in a park­ing lot holds dan­ger.

Then there are peo­ple work­ing along roads, dig­ging sewer lines, fix­ing electrical prob­lems, in­stalling ca­ble lines.

Re­cently, a group of stu­dents waited to cross the street in front of Lake­view-fort Oglethorpe High School. When the light changed, a group on the other side of the road started yelling for their friends to cross, but the stu­dents saw that cross­ing was not yet safe, in spite of the go sig­nal from the light. They waited and crossed when the coast was clear.

Shortly af­ter, a lone stu­dent ar­rived at the light, which was still in­di­cat­ing it was safe to cross. She glanced at the light then crossed the street with­out look­ing ei­ther way for traf­fic, her eyes on her phone all the way to the other side.

Stu­dents must of­ten cross streets just to get on a school bus, and as was so re­cently brought home to us with the in­ci­dent in Ge­or­gia, where the school bus was flash­ing its lights, it’s not enough to as­sume that be­cause a sig­nal says the way is safe that it ac­tu­ally is.

Mo­torists are of­ten care­less or dis­tracted, and the re­sults can be tragic.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Safety Coun­cil, nearly 6,000 pedes­tri­ans were hit and killed by mo­tor ve­hi­cles in 2017.

The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion and nu­mer­ous other safety groups sug­gest the fol­low­ing guide­lines for pedes­tri­ans and driv­ers to help elim­i­nate thou­sands of pedes­trian deaths each year.

Driv­ing or walk­ing dis­tracted is a dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen. Traf­fic pat­terns and sit­u­a­tions can change in a frac­tion of a sec­ond. Driv­ers should keep their at­ten­tion on the road and con­di­tions di­rectly re­lated to driv­ing, not on their phones, chang­ing a ra­dio sta­tion, the kids in the back seat, bill­boards or the many other things that vie for at­ten­tion. Walk­ers should be just as vig­i­lant, stay­ing off their phones and watch­ing traf­fic care­fully.

Pedes­tri­ans should al­ways walk fac­ing traf­fic. Trav­el­ing with traf­fic is for bi­cy­clists, not peo­ple on foot. You can’t see dan­ger ap­proach­ing if it’s be­hind you.

Traf­fic sig­nals are guides, not guar­an­tees. Pedes­tri­ans should not as­sume it’s safe to cross a street just be­cause a lit­tle elec­tronic fel­low on a sig­nal is mov­ing his legs and telling them so. Some­times cars run lights or are trav­el­ing too fast to stop be­hind a line. If you have a doubt that it’s safe, wait.

Driv­ers should keep in mind that they share the roads with pedes­tri­ans and some of those pedes­tri­ans could be im­paired in some way, from suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia to be­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs or al­co­hol. Pedes­tri­ans should keep the same thing in mind.

Pedes­tri­ans should wear light col­ors that are easy to see, es­pe­cially if they walk at night. Dark col­ors can make a pedes­trian nearly in­vis­i­ble at night.

In park­ing lots, pedes­tri­ans should watch parked cars — if some­one is in the driver’s seat, the car could be get­ting ready to pull out. Par­ents should keep their chil­dren from harm by hold­ing their hands and re­mem­ber­ing that driv­ers of­ten can­not see chil­dren.

Chil­dren cross­ing streets to get on a school bus should watch for the bus driver’s sig­nal to cross, but they should also look both ways be­fore cross­ing and not cross if a ve­hi­cle is ap­proach­ing at an alarm­ing speed.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but driv­ers should obey school zone speed lim­its, slow down when they see an ap­proach­ing school bus, stop when a school bus sig­nals them to do so, and never pass a school bus.

Driv­ers should re­mem­ber that dis­trac­tions in­clude far more than us­ing cell phones. Other dan­ger­ous dis­trac­tions in­clude eat­ing, drink­ing or smok­ing while driv­ing, as well as read­ing, putting on make-up or fix­ing your hair, reach­ing for items in your car, ad­just­ing ra­dio or mu­sic con­trols, talk­ing to other peo­ple in the car and di­vert­ing at­ten­tion to ad­ver­tis­ing along the road­way.

Pedes­tri­ans should al­ways cross ma­jor streets at marked cross­walks or traf­fic lights.

Peo­ple who are check­ing their mail or do­ing yard work along the road should never turn their backs to traf­fic.

Pedes­trian safety is a joint ef­fort of driv­ers and those on foot, ac­cord­ing to safety ex­perts. Ev­ery­one must be alert.

/ Con­trib­uted

From su­per­heroes of the screen to day-to-day he­roes like po­lice of­fi­cers, sol­diers, moms and dads, RES stu­dents did a great job dress­ing for suc­cess. From left: Chloe John­son, Mad­die Cham­pagne, Con­nor Thomas, Micah Con­ley, Will Davies, Christo­pher Ware, Will Burgess, Cora Jack­son, Hai­ley Dempsey and Bella Wil­liams.

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