Dead Right

Have you ever heard the saying: “Pedestrians are always in the right. But they can be dead right?”

That statement has stuck in my brain for years. When I first began driving, that phrase helped me to be more observant of walkers. But through the years, especially in the last decade or so, I am haunted by its philosophy.

It’s as if almost every night at 6:00, there’s yet again, another hit and run victim on the news. I’m saddened beyond words. It has got to stop!

But how? While street racing and drunk driving prevails, perhaps we need to approach this hit and run epidemic from another angle…the pedestrian, who is legally in the right, but sadly, often dead right.

Many pedestrians have a false sense of protection while in the perimeters of a crosswalk. Perhaps that statement ‘the pedestrian is always in the right’ has given us that false sense of security.

As a pedestrian, I may be in the right legally, but am I always safe? That’s the question. If I am thinking while in the middle of a crosswalk that I am completely safe and have no need to think about anything…then there’s always a chance for something bad to happen.

Walking within the boundaries of a crosswalk does not guarantee any kind of security. It’s all blind faith; believing that every car will stop for me, believing every driver will see me. Yet that’s how most of us go through life; with blind faith.

There are many distractions for the driver; cell phones being the latest. Not all drivers follow the rules of the road and drunk drivers still travel on our roads.

Knowing that a car or truck can weigh well over 3,000 pounds easily convinces me not to take unnecessary chances. And that’s it. When we decide to walk across the street where heavy vehicles travel, we are ultimately taking a chance with our lives.

Hit and run acts are atrocious and unpredictable, but perhaps there are things that we, as pedestrians, can do to protect ourselves. And protect ourselves, we must.

We must become our own advocate. When we step off the pavement, we must abandon the blind faith that once taught us we were safe because we were in a crosswalk, that all vehicles will stop for us, that all drivers will see us, that all drivers will care.

Also, just because the oncoming car looks as if he is coming to a halt, we should never proceed into the crosswalk unless we see the eyes of the driver and the driver sees us. We also should not proceed across the street till we can see the whites of their eyes. Good advice, but not the only advice.

Our job is not to smell the roses while we are maneuvering to the other side; our ultimate goal is to safely reach the other side. Period. No playing around while in the crosswalk. Then go to the gardens later and smell the lilacs and lavenders.

It goes without saying that we must always look way down the road for approaching vehicles and be ready to retreat or go forward quickly. But all the while? Never stop watching in the direction of oncoming cars!

It is also our job to teach these things to our children as well. They too, must become their own advocate. The other day I was waiting to make a left turn in a residential area. All of a sudden three high school girls come out of nowhere, crossing in front of me. Not one of them looked to see if I had seen them and not one of them took their cell phone away from their face while crossing the street in front of me. That had the potential for disaster. Thank God it ended well. But I wanted to follow the girls and tell them a few things about advocacy.

My new phrase for the 21st century is not just to look both ways, but to also be your own advocate. Stay alive!

Kathy (Kacie) Cooper is a member of the writing class at Norwalk Senior Center.