Pedestrians Used to Have the Right of Way

11 Oct

It seems that there isn’t a day that goes by when a reporter relates how a pedestrian was run over and/or killed by a hit-and-run driver. Just recently a man in Indianapolis was hit by a hit-and-run driver and the man briefly survived. While crawling to the curb he was then hit in succession by three more hit-and-run drivers! He didn’t survive that. It’s unspeakable!


More than 5,000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends increased implementation of strategies known to save pedestrians’ lives, including 1) installing and/or upgrading crosswalks, sidewalks, overpasses, underpasses, raised medians, and road signs and signals; 2) slowing vehicle speeds by “calming” streets with speed bumps and rumble strips; 3) enforcing laws against speeding and distracted driving; 4) creating walking streets or pedestrian zones; 5) improving mass transit route design and access; 6) improving lighting around pedestrian crossings; and 7) enhancing the visibility of pedestrians through the use of reflective materials.


That is all well and good and money well spent, but ultimately we pedestrians are responsible for our own lives.


When I grocery shop at my local Meijer, they have in place four large STOP signs on their parking lot. Yet there are drivers who drive too fast or don’t seem to realize that a pedestrian has the right of way. Drivers can be especially lethal when sharply turning up an aisle to park, forgetting that pedestrians have parked their car and are now walking towards the store entrance. But drivers aren’t always the ones at fault.


Several times when I’ve slowed down for the stop sign in front of one of the entrances to Meijer, I’ve witnessed pedestrians walking across the drivers’ lanes and DON’T LOOK LEFT OR RIGHT! This boggles my mind! How can you walk in front of cars without looking either way even if you have the right of way?


What is worse than that is parents who don’t hold on to their kids’ hands or are so busy loading groceries into their van that they don’t see their kid jutting out in front of traffic. Please, put your kids in the car first, then load your groceries!


Anytime I am walking in a supermarket parking lot, I always make sure I look directly into the oncoming driver’s eyes. I want to be sure they are conscious of seeing me! Usually they stop at the stop sign or the crosswalk of a supermarket. BUT NOT ALWAYS! Just recently I was walking towards the entrance of a major supermarket while a young woman in a car didn’t stop as she looked directly at me and continued driving while I had to wait for her to pass. The driver behind her saw the incident and waved me on. When these incidents happen, I’m tempted to yell out, “Hey, you’re supposed to stop – the pedestrian has the right of way!”


I actually did that once while I was on a college campus. I was in my car pulling into the parking lot and another driver in the lot who was supposed to stop at the stop sign at the entrance, didn’t and crossed in front of my car. Boy, he caught me on the wrong day. I was really irritated. As luck would have it, we parked at about the same time so I knew it was the same driver. Although he was walking ahead of me, I yelled out, “Hey, you know you’re supposed to stop at that stop sign!” He turned around and looked at me and RECOGNIZED me and knew he had done wrong but at least had the decency to apologize. In this instance, he may have thought I was a teacher and would get him in hot water. Actually, I WAS a teacher at that time! (How to get a failing grade in your class.) I’m less likely to react like that at the supermarkets because I’d probably get shot. No kidding. The homicides in Indianapolis are going through the roof this year.


So, pedestrians, look both ways before you cross please. Let’s not make ourselves easy targets for careless drivers. Parents, keep a better eye on your kids around traffic. And drivers, show some respect for pedestrians. If you hit one and run, you never know who will be jotting down your license plate. No matter how late you are running for your appointment, or how quickly you think you can text or talk on your cell, it won’t be worth it if you hit a pedestrian, or if your kid gets hit. Your insurance rate will go up, there will be medical bills to pay off and/or you’ll be paying your mechanic for the damage to the body of your car. Then you also have to live with the guilt of killing someone or maiming them for life. Think about it.






11 Responses to “Pedestrians Used to Have the Right of Way”

  1. Helen October 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    This is a subject which is very much on my mind since having a child and almost simultaneously getting a car. These days even if I have right of way at a crossing I wait to be sure any cars will stop before I start walking across the road.

    On that note, once I was coming off a roundabout and stopped at a crossing immediately in front for a pedestrian. The car behind me sounded their horn and then overtook me on the wrong side. The pedestrian would have been hit if the said driver hadn’t done an emergency stop.

    Generally, it seems both drivers and pedestrians are in too much of a hurry. I know I am guilty of this too and need to pace myself better. Traffic calming measures do work I think – for example, there are speed bumps on my housing estate which are so high it would be impossible to drive fast over. This does make it much safer for kids to play out but only so far as some people will speed up between bumps and then have to slow down rapidly. Not great for their car or the environment either!


    • Marcella Rousseau October 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Yes, when I had my son I became more diligent about traffic safety too! You would think that the roundabouts would stop accidents but I’ve seen damage to roundabouts in my area with debris from an accident around it. Afterwards, the city put some tall potted plants in the center of the roundabout. I guess people didn’t expect the roundabout to be there and tried to drive straight through it! Anyway, those plants aren’t there anymore. People are probably getting more used to seeing roundabouts. I know that it is a lot cheaper to build a roundabout then to install lights. Today while I was driving to the library it was extremely busy on one particular 2-lane roundabout. Drivers were getting on in front of me when they should have been waiting for me to drive through. They don’t seem to realize that the car in the circle has the right of way. I didn’t know the rules myself and had to google them to find out. I downloaded the instructions and have them on my computer. I think I’ll create a link on my post. I think this particular roundabout needs to be a traffic light instead.
      Out in California, if a pedestrian puts their foot (or even their toe) in the street, ALL traffic has to stop! Well, my son’s friend’s mother lived out there. She began crossing the street, the first row of cars stopped, but apparently a car behind didn’t see her crossing and didn’t have the patience to wait and went around the stopped cars, hit her, she went flying into the air, and ended up in the hospital. She is OK now but what an experience.
      I think newer cars might address this situation. Cars will automatically stop when a car stops in front of them regardless of what the driver does so that might apply to a pedestrian walking in front of a car too. I have my doubts about this saving lives though but we will see.
      Yes, I know what you mean about speed bumps and people speeding in between them. I had them when I lived in an apartment on the south side of Indy. Some drivers ignored the bumps!


      • Helen October 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        What an horrendous experience for your son’s friend’s mum. Glad she is okay now anyway. We are taught how to manage roundabouts in our driving lessons – the problem comes when one is normally very quiet, so you are lulled into a false of security and forget to look….


        • Marcella Rousseau October 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

          Yes, thank you. They may teach drivers how to manage roundabouts in drivers education classes, but for people like myself who have had driver’s licenses for decades…..There really should be mandatory refresher classes for everybody. But the Motor Vehicle Bureau here is a big mess. They are always in the news for something bad. The latest is that they overcharged thousands of people and are now in the process of returning that money. Who knows, maybe I will get a refund. It’s pathetic.


  2. puppiesinparadise October 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Marcella if you hit a pedestrian won’t it be a criminal offense and you would risk prison time?

    Pedestrians have the right away here as well. I have gotten quite upset with pedestrians talking on a phone that just step in front of a car when ice and snow are on the ground. They should use the cross walk for one and take into account the time it takes to stop.
    Sweden has already done those percautions in medium to large cities. The rural areas like where we live have very narrow dirt roads but we where reflex vest to be seen. I even have vests for my dogs.


    • Marcella Rousseau October 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

      I don’t know the law on this in Indiana. But I would think if you hit and run and then get caught, the punishment would be worse. After I published this, another pedestrian got hit by two hit-and-run drivers. It’s becoming an epidemic. Yes, it is worse when there is snow and ice on the ground here too. The only people who wear reflective vests are the people who do construction on the roads: patching holes and creating new roads. Probably First Responders too. Runners may wear reflective jackets or arm bands and most athletic shoes have a bit of reflective area on each shoe. Bicycles usually have something reflective on them too. That is good for at night, but more needs to be done during the daylight hours. It makes me think about the Viet Nam war when Americans would say, “life is cheap there.” Well, I think we could say the same thing here when it comes to pedestrians and hit-and-run drivers. Thank you for your comment.


      • puppiesinparadise October 16, 2014 at 8:07 am #

        I have two reflective vests in our car, along with a forehead flash light…in our emergency kit at all times. That way if we have to change a tire on a dark highway, we are clearly seen from a distance. Sweden has the midnight sun but we have months of darkness in the winter.
        Sweden is very saftey conscious. We still have pedestrians that are run over by cars. It is a rare occurance. It sparks a country wide conversations as what we can do to prevent this tragedy from happening again.
        Right now there are discussions in Stockholm to improve saftey for bicyclist and pedistrians in inner city. Old parts of town have really narrow roads that were designed for horse and buggies. There is discussion to have roads just for cyclist and pedestrians as well as roads for vehicles. These roads are too narrow to have bicycle lanes and pedestrian lanes like else where in the city and country….
        It sounds like some of the hit and runs that you are speaking of might be alcohol related. It is just such a tragedy.


        • Marcella Rousseau October 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

          Yes, I have emergency gear in my car too. Most of it I bought. Some of it was given to me by a thoughtful boss I had years ago. It may be that some of the hit-and-runs are alcohol related. They haven’t been caught as yet so there is no way to know. Others may just be criminals with warrants out for their arrest so they would not want to stop and ultimately talk with police. And some may be that the driver just didn’t see the person…but that doesn’t give them an excuse to leave the scene.

          Building safer and wider roads costs money regardless of what city or country you’re from. In Indianapolis, the mayor has been talking about hiring 280 additional policemen which is greatly needed but money is an issue. It just isn’t there so he has to figure out where he can get it from (or take it from.) He has been talking about removing the Homestead tax credit. Homeowners (of which I am one) will not be happy if he does that because then we have to pay extra. It’s a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul if you know what I mean.

          Northern Indianapolis has a nice, relatively new trail for runners, walkers, cyclists, etc. But crime has been a problem on it. So, now police on bicycles were added to ride the trail.


          • puppiesinparadise October 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

            I can understand your alarm that so many people are getting injured. Then to take into the fact of implimenting something in to practice to change that. I hope they figure it out.


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