Extreme caution urged at crosswalks

  • Sun Feb 19th, 2012 8:27pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

Penny Page of Everett writes: I am expressing concern about pedestrians and the danger they are in when wearing dark clothing in our “dark weather.”

I am alarmed by some recent pedestrian fatalities. In recent weeks I have personally witnessed pedestrians crossing intersections in dark clothing and both times they were almost hit. What a tragedy this would have been for all concerned — nobody wants to be responsible for this type of accident.

Last night I watched a young woman walking her small dog, and a baby who was in a stroller. From a ½ block distance all that was really visible was the stroller and the dog because one could see their light colors. This was at a well-lit, downtown Everett intersection.

The mother, again, was almost invisible due to head-to-toe dark clothing. This has certainly made me more aware of what I am wearing and where I am walking, and being much more vigilant when I am driving.

I hope you will feel this concern and help people become more aware. People should think about wearing light-colored jackets, a scarf, or hat — anything lighter would be better than being invisible in our starless nights.

Trooper Keith Leary of the Washington State Patrol responds: Yes, you want to make it easy for drivers to see you when walking at night. Dress in light colors and wear reflective material. It might be wise to carry a flashlight in very dark areas.

Following are some tips.

For drivers: Remember that you can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere — even in places where they are not supposed to be found.

Pedestrians can be very hard to see, especially in bad weather or at night. You must keep a lookout and slow down if you can’t see clearly.

When entering a crosswalk area, drive slowly and be prepared to stop. Wait for pedestrians to cross any intersection, even if it is not marked with a crosswalk. When you stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.

Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.

When you are turning, you often will have to wait for a “gap” in traffic. Beware that while you are watching for that “gap,” pedestrians may have moved into your intended path.

Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where children are active.

For pedestrians:

Be predictable. Stay off freeways and out of restricted zones. Use sidewalks where provided. Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so. Where no sidewalks are provided, it is usually safer to walk facing road traffic.

Again, dress in light colors, wear reflective material and consider carrying a flashlight.

Be wary. Most drivers are nice people, but don’t count on them paying attention. Watch out — make eye contact to be sure they see you.

Alcohol and drugs can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do a person’s ability to drive.

Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher speed streets.

Carole Stevens of Mill Creek writes: I have noticed that there are a lot of people driving in traffic with their bright lights on, even in daylight hours.

I don’t think it is a new type of bulb, because it seriously lights up the interior of my car when they are behind me. Head on, I cannot look anywhere near the oncoming car. Is this a new safety issue or another “I don’t give a damn” issue? Any ideas on how to protect my vision while driving as I drive my son to work at night?

Trooper Leary responds: Drivers should dim their high beams whenever they come within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

They also should use their low beams when following 300 feet or less behind another vehicle.

If a vehicle comes toward you with high beams on, look away from the headlights and toward the right side of the road until the car has passed. This will keep you from being blinded by the other vehicle’s headlights and allow you to see enough of the edge of the road to stay on course. Do not try to “get back” at the other driver by keeping your bright lights on. If you do, both of you may be blinded.

Drivers may be issued a ticket for $124 for improper use of high beams. It is up to the discretion of the trooper.

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