I’ve Been Hit by a Car and It Hurts
When I was in college, I was hit by a car going approximately 35 miles an hour as I was walking in a crosswalk back to my dorm for lunch. I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but let’s just say it took several months to recover from that accident. I spent a lot of my spring semester in pain.
This week, as I was driving to work, I stopped at a red light on 21st at Cincinnati, facing west, right by Lee Elementary School. In fact, it’s the place where kids cross 21st Street coming and going from school. I was stopped. A car opposite me was stopped, and a car coming off of Cincinnati on my right, which had the green light, was turning onto 21st Street just as a car flew through the red light going east on 21st. This had to be a case of major distracted driving, since the driver must have seen that there was a car stopped in the other lane on his side, and I was stopped on the other side. I still don’t know how he miraculously missed the car turning out onto 21st Street.
This blatant red-light running bothered me on many levels, but the biggest beef I had with this driver was that he was barreling through a light where so many school children cross. I shudder to think what might have happened if school had been in session.
As a runner, I’ve experienced many, many red light runners, and drivers who turn right on red before waiting for people (like me) to cross on our GREEN light. This happens all over town – I’m talking to you woman in the Cadillac SUV at 21st & Utica, and you guy in the Honda Accord at 36th & Peoria, and you lady in the GMC Truck at 41st & Yale.
Pay attention, people! Especially around schools! Expect that kids might dart out from behind a parked car. Expect that they may run into the street without looking. SLOW DOWN, even if you’re not technically in the school zone.
Believe me. It hurts to be hit by a car.
Schools are starting in the next couple of weeks. Here are some tips from AAA’s annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign:
1. Slow Down. Two-thirds of motorists exceeded the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school, according to a national observational survey. Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, keep speeds low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
2. Obey Traffic Signs. This same observational survey found that many motorists violated stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Forty-five percent did not come to a complete stop with 37 percent rolling through and seven percent not even slowing down.
3. Stay Alert. Always avoid distractions while driving, particularly in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Avoid talking on mobile phones, adjusting the radio or any other activities that might take attention away from the roadway. Never text while driving.
4. Scan Between Parked Cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occur in between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
5. Look for Clues of Children Nearby. Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, adult crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
6. Always Stop for School Buses. For many kids, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching and leaving it. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children, and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped, and children are getting on and off. Drivers are required to stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before driving again.
7. Allot Extra Travel Time. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Allow extra travel time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to “catch up” after being delayed.
8. Review Your Travel Route. Consider modifying travel routes to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones.
9. Use Extra Caution in Bad Weather. Whether in rain, snow, fog or any other inclement weather, use extra caution. Reduced visibility can make it difficult to see children and for children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult for drivers to perform quick stops, if needed.
10. Use Headlights. Turn on headlights so children and other drivers can see you and you can see them more easily. But don’t forget to turn them off when you reach your destination.