While driving home from work the other day, I almost killed a man.
I work in Red Bank, NJ where there are many clearly marked crosswalks. Unfortunately, in the 1 year I have been working here, I have seen 3 people who have been hit by cars and have heard of at least 4 more. All of these people were walking in the crosswalks. There are signs all around that state it is the law to stop for pedestrians that are int he crosswalk. There was one afternoon that I, personally, was nearly run down by a blonde woman in a white Mercedes Coupe, talking on her phone, who swerved to avoid me while I was in the crosswalk. Yesterday I stopped for a young couple with a puppy crossing in the crosswalk while the driver of the truck that was headed in the opposite direction didn’t even take their foot off of the brake even though they could clearly see these people (again, in the crosswalk). Having seen all of this, I tend to be over-cautious when driving in Red Bank.
Being over-cautious doesn’t always mean that one is guaranteed to not encounter a safety issue when driving.
On Tuesday evening I left my office and was driving the usual route to head home. As I made my turn on to Broad Street I unintentionally cut off a woman because I honestly didn’t see her until I was already committed to the turn. The reason I didn’t see her was that she was going faster than the posted 25 mph limit which is nothing new for this area, however the traffic light at the intersection that is less than 200 feet in front of us was red so where on earth did she think she was going? Well, she expressed her anger towards me by laying on her horn and riding so close that I couldn’t even tell there was a vehicle behind me. When the light changed to green, I looked to be sure that there wasn’t anyone in the crosswalk and proceeded to execute my left turn.
Side note: there are 3 particular intersections in Red Bank that are very busy. One is at a corner with a Starbucks, one has limited visibility (the one I initially came out of and cut the woman off) due to parked vehicles and one has an Urban Outfitters and 2 bars which bring a lot of foot traffic. The last one has a traffic light that changes very rapidly and if a pedestrian wants to cross and doesn’t push the “Walk” button the walk sign will never light and that pedestrian winds up playing Frogger. All 3 of these intersections have seen vehicle vs. pedestrian incidents.Here is a link to one of the incidents that happened at the same intersection that my office is located. http://www.redbankgreen.com/2012/07/pedestrian-reported-struck-on-broad.html (The comments made on this article are very telling as well)
When I completed my left turn, the woman I cut off was still so close behind me that it was still on my mind. It was at this particular moment that a man who seemed to be in his 60’s or 70’s, decides to stroll across the street, right in front of me, and NOT at a crosswalk. I slammed on the brakes so hard that everything inside flew forward and the man continued to cross as if nothing had happened. I moved forward enough so I could pull over, gather myself and get everything from the front back to where it belonged while the woman (again) wailed on her horn as she raced past me. As I continued to pull everything back together and tried to calm my breathing, the man walked right by me and was ready to enter the Veterans’ building, so I rolled down my window (Yes, I am of the age that I still say “roll the window down” even though I only have to use a button) and shakily informed him that I had almost ran him over. His reply was “Oh? Sorry.” and walked right into the building.
Every time I think of this story I break down into tears because all I can think of is “What if I had hit him? Oh my God, I could have killed him!” yet his reaction was as if he didn’t notice, or simply didn’t care. Either way, I have been affected so strongly that I have become angry and 2 people I don’t know, will never meet and may never see again. If I do, I don’t know if my reaction time will be the same as it was this last time.
Moral of this story: USE THE FUCKING CROSSWALKS!!!!!!!