Why the Pedestrian Right of Way Law is Dangerous

On January 19, at nine p.m., four girls were crossing a busy four lane intersection in the city of Troy, NY.  They were between the ages of ten and thirteen.   Since state law and parents teach their children that they have the right of way, children often exercise their right to step into of traffic and expect it to stop.  It’s the law.

In this case, the traffic light turned green, the crossing sign blinked “Don’t Walk,” and still, the girls stepped into the crosswalk.  There were three cars in the right lane and the first driver who had the green light stopped for the girls to cross the street, again, despite the crossing sign blinking “Don’t Walk.”

The third car in line saw that the light was green and his lane wasn’t moving so he turned into the left lane and continued.  Just as he approached the crosswalk the first girl emerged from in front of the stopped car and the she was hit.  She is fine, a little banged up, but not seriously injured.  The driver was ticketed for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

I was raised in an age where we were taught to stop, look and listen, then look again and continue to look both ways while crossing.  I don’t quite understand the logic of a slow moving flesh and blood pedestrian having the right of way over two tons of steel and velocity.  Even today I have no desire to take up the practice of challenging a 4,000 pound vehicle against my unprotected body.   Even if a driver of a vehicle slows down, I wave them by because that driver may recognize my authority over him but that doesn’t guarantee other drivers, as in this case, are cognizant of my ability to part a sea of vehicles in my path.
When I was a teen on a bike, I witnessed a pedestrian stepping onto a street forcing a car to come to a stop.  As she approached the other lane, a car across the street was pulling out of a side street and he was looking to his left for oncoming traffic.  There was none coming and no need to look to the right since it was his lane he was turning onto.  As he pulled onto the street and looked to the right, it was too late.  Compound leg fractures ensued.   The car was fine.
I walk at about 2.5 miles per hour and a car can be going about 30 miles per hour on the average city street (c’mon, who are we kidding – 40).   At my pace I can stop in about a foot.  A car may take several feet to stop.  If someone steps in front of a car, several feet may not be enough.  The law may be on the side of the pedestrian but the laws of physics is not.
Residents of the community are very upset about this recent hit and are demanding that the city do something to make this busy vehicular intersection more safe, at taxpayer expense.  Good parenting is free.
No pedestrian should suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk in the path of a moving vehicle which constitutes an immediate hazard.  You may disagree but I think that that is just insane regardless what the law says. So parents, decide what you teach your children:  Stop, look and listen or, stop traffic.   BTW, where is your ten year old at nine p.m.?
kogut malcolm hoosick street

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