Yesterday morning, a Sunday, I was driving down a busy road (Camino Ramon) to my sister’s board and care home. I had the newspaper, my laptop, and a busy day ahead.
At the stop sign I stopped and waited my turn. Then I started through the intersection and whoa! A man with a big dog was right in front of me!
I stopped, swore, and the guy shook his head.
I had been paying attention. Was I losing my peripheral vision? How did the near-miss happen?
As I drove another 500 feet and parked in front of the care home, I turned on my windshield wipers and squirted wiper fluid. Then I looked back at the intersection. The curb the man had stepped off to cross the street was in deep shade.
I had been driving into the morning sun with sunglasses on. He was invisible to me in the shade. I didn’t see him until he was walking into the sunny intersection.
Beware, pedestrian! Just because you can see me doesn’t mean I can see you. Drivers have a lot of things going on — watching the road, watching the oncoming traffic, watching the rear-view mirror.
It’s the time of year with long morning or afternoon shadows and glaring sunshine. If you are in a shadow and wearing dark clothing, I can’t see you.
Thank God the dog was light-colored.
I hit a girl once with my Chevy Suburban. But that was a case of her not looking before she sprinted across the road. It doesn’t matter. It was traumatizing for me, the driver.
She survived but broke her arm. The case was open with my insurance company for a whole year! I couldn’t look at the dent in my hood without reliving the whole thing. I donated the truck and bought a Prius.
I always slow down at pedestrian crossings and keep my eyes on the center of the road. My neighbor looked to one side while driving through the trail-crossing intersection and hit a kid on a bicycle. He didn’t look before he crossed the street.
Kid okay, bike not okay. Neighbor traumatized.
Yes, pedestrians have the right of way, but you still need to look, folks. You need to make eye contact with the driver to make sure that we see you.
Nobody wants to hit somebody on purpose.
Cars are big and heavy, metal and rubber. As a human and 75% water, you will lose.
So next time, while you are shaking your head in disgust, think about what just happened.
- Did you step out of deep shade?
- Are you wearing dark clothing?
- Is the sun in the driver’s eyes?
If any of this is true, give us a chance to see you before you take over the crosswalk as your own.
The odds of not getting hit will be much more in your favor if you do.