Do you look both ways at a stop sign? Or do you only look left at oncoming cars and turn right without looking to your right? Almost every single time I run outside on the sidewalk, or bike in the bike lane, I encounter a car that turns or pulls, never once looking to the right and almost hits me. No matter what part of town; whether it is Arlington, the beach or anywhere between. This is not exactly a new topic yet it still seems to be a very serious problem.
Everyone is busy and in a hurry…I get it. But when you are at a stop sign or stop light, there is more to be aware of than just cars. There are pedestrians on sidewalks, kids on bikes (skateboards, scooters, rip-sticks, etc…), runners and moms pushing strollers. It is well documented that while driving, the human brain is programmed to look for threats, which generally consists of other cars. Which means you can look at a person while driving but not “see” them. We must program our brains to not only look for threats to us, but to look for the people we are threats to.
Another problem I see, is that instead of cars stopping at the stop sign and looking both ways, which should be BEFORE the sidewalk, they drive through the stop sign and sidewalk. So if there is a pedestrian crossing, they could be hit if the driver is not paying attention.
In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians and 818 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts). These two modes accounted for 17.7 percent of the 35, 092 total U.S. fatalities that year. We, as drivers, runners and cyclists can reduce that number.
I have now made it a habit to look both ways, twice, every time I come to a stop sign or light. Even when running or biking, I am busy and have to remind myself to slow down and pay attention. It is just that simple. If we all slow down and pay attention, it will save lives!