Traffic regulations are a two-way street
My heart goes out to Nyree Anderson, her mother and her aunt. I’m certainly not implying that this tragedy was their fault and not the driver’s, but this incident calls to my attention a much broader problem. More people than ever before are choosing to walk in the road rather than on a sidewalk, like they’re supposed to. They are crossing streets without looking both ways or paying any attention whatsoever. I can testify to this behavior, because part of my job requires my driving over 30 hours a week, all around Erie County.
I regularly witness people walking not just individually, but sometimes three or four abreast, in the road, and they walk with a scoffing indifference and deliberate disregard to any oncoming traffic. I have seen people standing in the middle of the street having casual conversations, and not responding to motorists honking as their vehicles approach, attempting to pass.
I regularly see high school students, just after their 3 p.m. dismissal, slowly sauntering across the street in a mass of bodies against the traffic light that has just turned green, and then shouting expletives at the honking cars that are now backed up down the street. And I have often seen women of all ages pushing baby strollers in the street when there was a perfectly usable sidewalk right next to them. Why?
I’ve heard a few absurd arguments attempting to justify this foolhardy and obnoxious behavior; none of which makes the least sense. No, this is about people feeling that traffic safety regulations don’t apply to them.
Police should start giving citations to people for this activity. It’s not only jaywalking, its scofflaw – making conditions for responsible motorists (as well as pedestrians) extremely hazardous. The right-of-way laws protecting pedestrians did not make provisions for people dispensing with common sense. It falls on both drivers and pedestrians to be watchful, careful and wary. Whatever the laws may say on paper, in reality traffic regulations are a two-way street.
Martin B. Penkala