I always thought of a pedestrian as a carless (and possibly homeless) person. One part of me feels sorry for them (and their aching feet), while the other part of me feels envious of them. Envious of the money they save by NOT paying for gasoline, NOT making a car payment, NOT paying for insurance and parking fees, and NEVER getting a DWI. Perhaps a PI (public intoxication), though. Oh yes, and for not polluting the environment, whilst keeping in excellent shape.

As everyone knows, but no one seems to care, when it comes to the ‘pedestrian vs vehicle’ debate, pedestrians always have the right of way. Unless, of course, they are jaywalking… And only then you can take them out (just kidding). In Dallas, they issue jaywalking citations (especially downtown) that range from $50 to $65 plus court costs. Pedestrians that walk outside of crosswalks subject themselves to potentially dangerous injuries and sometimes death. In 2010 in the U.S., there were 70,000 pedestrians injured and 4,654 were killed by cars and other automobiles and 73% of these death accidents occurred in downtown areas and 64% of the pedestrian auto accident deaths occurred at night.

Apparently, when it comes to the ‘pedestrian vs car right of way’ debate, both pedestrians and drivers are sometimes confused about who has the right of way at an intersection. Whether there is a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk, the pedestrian always has the right of way. The problem seems to be that the pedestrian is not typically cautious at a marked crosswalk because they assume the driver knows that they have to yield to the pedestrian, giving them a false sense of security. The difference in an unmarked crosswalk, the pedestrian is usually more cautious. Either way, marked or not, the pedestrian should never assume the vehicle will yield for them, although they should. Either way, the vehicle always wins.

Another dangerous pedestrian vs. vehicle issue seems to be that the pedestrian assumes the driver is paying attention. Pedestrians should always pay special attention to see that a driver is not taking a right turn at a stop sign or red light where they are crossing. The driver may be looking to the left for oncoming traffic and proceed to take their right turn without looking for pedestrians. That’s why a driver should still always use a blinker. Even in a turn only lane…at least for the pedestrian’s sake. It’s likely that the increase in walking while texting, talking on the phone or listening to an ipod has attributed to more pedestrian v.s. vehicle incidents. That’s a recipe for chaos if both the driver and the pedestrian are not paying attention.

And, not only are walkers considered pedestrians, rollerbladers, hikers, old dudes in their souped-up Rascals, even joggers are also considered pedestrians. When I used to jog, I once got accosted by a panhandler who stopped me because he wanted to mooch a cigarette. Now, even if I smoke while I jog, where would I even carry them? Rolled up in my t-shirt sleeve like The Fonz? I asked him this. He was a bit embarrassed and apparently disappointed. So he asked me if I had twelve cents. I told him I had a quarter and he said “never mind.” Like the extra thirteen cents would put him in another tax bracket.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Comedienne / Artist / Lightening Rod of Reality