Project P.E.D, a pedestrian safety campaign under way since last semester, is still trying to make it safer for pedestrians after cars have hit several people.
For the most part, the increased vigilance for the traffic violations is legit. Catching “rolling stops” and speeding will keep us safe, and maybe deter more accidents, but there needs to be a little leeway on citations when yielding the right-of-way to a pedestrian.
Yes, that sounds horrible written down. But can anyone identify with this scenario? You pull up to the four way stop at Plummer and Etiwanda. Someone is crossing, slowly, in front of you. Once they’ve gone by, and you try to turn, there’s someone in the crosswalk you need to turn across. And once they’re out of the crosswalk, someone else is crossing in front of your car again. And why? Because of following the pedestrian right-of-way, letting them fully exiting the crosswalk.
You can receive a citation for turning into a crosswalk, even if the pedestrian is exiting on the opposite side of the crosswalk. Why? How are they in danger at that point?
And the pedestrians aren’t completely blameless. Many don’t seem very mindful of the cars surrounding them, blissfully unaware that they’re prolonging that sea of people who are crossing the street. Despite that complaint, I’d rather people be crossing slowly in crosswalks rather then meandering diagonally across an intersection, while all four sides of traffic wait and scream in frustration.
The pedestrian right-of-way is still important. As drivers, we have a giant metal frame around us, and usually some nice comfy airbags in case of emergency. A pedestrian has just their reflexes to try and jump out of the way of a car. And remember, the person in the car is almost always the one responsible in an accident when the other party is a pedestrian.
The rule just needs a little tweaking. Waiting for the pedestrian to exit completely seems a little excessive, and yet I’m not surprised. The law is to wait until the crosswalk is empty. If it were changed to wait until they’re out of the side of the crosswalk you’ll be driving over, there would be more accidents as we try to shave off as much of the rule as we can.
The reality is almost everyone has gone through a crosswalk while someone was still in it on the other side. I’ve seen cop cars do it. None are exempt. There’s a fine line between protecting the pedestrians and becoming over-zealous and stringent on ticketing. I hope that the Project P.E.D. will recognize where to draw the line.