The billboards yell it out; we see public service ads on TV; pedestrians are dying needlessly on and near our roads. While we have had no pedestrian fatalities as yet in Somersett, it is incumbent on each of us, whether in the role of motorist or pedestrian to make sure that record is maintained.
Motorists/Motorcycle Operators: The same inattention to driving that causes vehicle-on-vehicle accidents is often the cause of pedestrian injuries and deaths. It goes without saying that texting while driving is a disaster waiting to happen. However, less obvious is the distraction caused by even hands-free telephone conversations or listening to the radio. The clear points in your trip that require more acute pedestrian awareness are marked cross-walks. However, what about the points in between? Jaywalking pedestrians are taking an inordinate risk, but that will not fully allay your sense of guilt if you strike one. When we learn to drive, we are told to drive defensively, to expect the unexpected from other drivers. The same goes for pedestrians and bicyclists. There is no substitute for vigilant, defensive driving.
Automobile/Motorcycle Passengers: As the passenger in a powered vehicle, you are in a unique position to enhance the operator’s awareness of the situation around them. That thought may not have occurred to you in the past. Now is the time to appreciate fully that more often than not, we as passengers can be more distracting than helpful in this regard. Yet, if an accident does occur, you will be left asking yourself what you could have done to help prevent it. Don’t miss your opportunity to assist in the safe operation of the vehicle, much as you would like the same from your passenger(s) when you are driving.
Pedestrians/Bicycle Riders: More than anyone else on or near the road, you are responsible for your personal safety. When is the last time you saw a pedestrian crossing a busy thoroughfare with their head buried in a smartphone? While you may technically have the right of way, that will be of little consolation if you are seriously injured or killed in an accident with a motor vehicle. Be aware of your surroundings. Walk defensively; expect the unexpected from motorists/motorcycle operators. Be visible and make sure the motor vehicle operators see you before you proceed across the street. Just because you can see the lights of a car or motorcycle does not ensure the operator can see you, especially in conditions of limited visibility. Bicyclists, obey the traffic rules and have appropriate reflective gear when riding at night.
Parents: While it is the primary responsibility of the automobile or motorcycle operator to look out for the safety of your children on foot or on their bicycles, children are notoriously unaware of the risks they face daily (this from any of our own personal experiences as children…). Again, while the motor vehicle operator may be at fault in an accident that injures your child…or worse, you may suffer a most unthinkable loss. There is no substitute for adult supervision, especially of very young children. However, that is impractical in all situations. So, the next best thing is to ensure your children are aware of the potential threats to them from motor vehicles. A little role-playing can go a long way. Talk to your children of the risks of playing in and around roads; make yourself aware of their whereabouts and their safety.