Readers Respond To A Near-Tragedy
My dear MidWeek readers: Thank you so much for your feedback on my column “Coming ThisClose To A Tragedy.” It must have touched a nerve because an awful lot of you responded with stories of your own near-hits and the conclusions you’ve drawn from them.
Take this email from AlohaTownie: “I’ve done exactly the same thing while driving … looked left for traffic but neglected to look right; learning my lesson in much the same way you did. Fortunately there was no tragedy, but I never forgot. In my mind I can still see the woman who stepped off the curb into the crosswalk and then threw her hand down onto my car’s front fender in alarm, as I had allowed my car to roll forward in anticipation of turning right on red. Her look of fear and dismay is burned in my memory forever.”
And this, from Stephan: “I both drive car & ride Harley, and people (including me) just need to realize that driving a vehicle is not a right, but a privilege. A car is a loaded weapon ready to kill in a split second if we divert our attention. People really need to wake up and realize that driving is a skill that needs constant attention & practice.”
Almost everyone agreed I had been careless, because it was true. There’s no excuse for it.
But almost all of them also pointed to another simple fact — pedestrians often take their status for granted. And even though the driver is the wielder of the multi-ton moving weapon, the pedestrian is the one who winds up dead or maimed in the encounter.
Which means pedestrians need to take more responsibility as well.
Just look at all these responses:
“I was a competitive runner for many years and ran through hundreds, thousands, of intersections. I had a strict rule: Don’t cross in front of a car until I’ve made eye contact with the driver. No eye contact? Dead stop, even though it broke the rhythm of my run. Result? Some 25,000 miles without a close call.” —Howard
“Sure they are in the right, but had you stepped on the gas they would have been dead, right? A car is a weapon. One does not walk in front of a person firing a gun.” —Earl
Or as Pi’ilani says, “Even though our laws in Hawaii say that the pedestrian has the right of way, who is going to get hurt?”
Don’t let it be you.