By Jeffery Hunt
A pedestrian”s right-of-way when crossing a crosswalk does not stop a two-ton car from plowing a 120-pound pedestrian. The law may side with pedestrians, but physics does not.
Drivers and pedestrians vary with expectations of courtesy for each other. The conflict between them is resolved when they turn their expectations on themselves.
“I think it would be great if everyone would be more courteous,” said pedestrian Wendy Carter, a senior from Folsom, Calif. “There are a lot of drivers who just don”t care.”
Carter walks to campus and said it would take her “forever” if she waited for traffic at every crossing.
Utah traffic laws require cars to yield to pedestrians inside crosswalks.
Carter said her petition of courtesy parallels the law and asks for nothing more.
“If pedestrians are in the crosswalk, they are not being discourteous to drivers when they walk in front of cars,” Carter said. “The law sets the standard for courtesy and pedestrians have right-of-way.”
Carter”s roommate, Desarae Lee, a junior from Springville, Utah, crosses the same streets on her walk to campus, but has different expectations of courtesy.
“I know pedestrians have the right of way, but it”s rude,” Lee said. “Especially when a pedestrian could wait instead of forcing me to stop.”
Both Carter and Lee live south of campus where cars and pedestrians are plentiful.
Lee said sidewalks were built for pedestrians and the roads were built for cars.
“If pedestrians are going to crowd into cars” territory, they should be nice about it,” Lee said.
She said she expects courtesy.
“Courtesy is higher than the law,” Lee said.
Carter, a pedestrian, expects drivers to obey the law. Lee, a driver, expects pedestrians to be courteous.
An aggressive driver hit Amy Jensen, a senior from Park City, while she crossed a street south of campus within a crosswalk two years ago.
“I ended up in the hospital,” she said. “Doctors said I was lucky that my hip wasn”t shattered.”
Since the accident, Jensen is very aware of pedestrians when driving and of cars when walking.
“Don”t think you rule the roads because you have right-of-way,” she said. “You don”t.”
Jensen said pedestrians and drivers need to be more cautious.
Pedestrian Chris Benninghoff, a sophomore from Canton, Ohio, keeps drivers in mind when crossing the street.
“When there aren”t any cars coming, I will cross the street,” said Benninghoff. “If cars stop for me, I say ”thank you” and quickly cross the street.”
Benninghoff said he expects courtesy from himself.
He said it is rude to make a driver slam on his brakes if it can be avoided.
“Granted, I have right-of-way,” he said. “But I can wait if a car wants to pass.”
Driver Tim Allen, a senior from Hutchingson Minn., is mindful of pedestrians.
“I know to be looking for pedestrians,” he said. “I stop if I am in a position to stop.”
The gap between drivers and pedestrians is bridged with self-expectations that surpass expectations of others.
“I think crosswalk laws work,” Allen said, “There is a balance between walkers and drivers. Everyone knows how it feels to almost be hit.”