Pedestrian safety in a careless, distracted world
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.
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.