As pedestrians, do we trust drivers too much?

She did not hesitate to step into the crosswalk even though a vehicle on her left had stopped halfway across it waiting to enter traffic

I was walking to my vehicle after work yesterday and watched the woman on the sidewalk ahead of me approach the intersection. She did not hesitate to step into the crosswalk even though a vehicle on her left had stopped halfway across it waiting to enter traffic. The driver was watching intently to her left waiting for a gap in traffic. The pedestrian checked her stride and I thought that she was going to wait for the driver to notice her before she crossed in front of the vehicle.

Not so. She walked around the front of the vehicle and just about became another statistic. The driver had found her gap and began to roll forward at the same time as she looked to her right to make sure that she had a gap to enter. Finding a pedestrian just inches ahead of her hood ornament must have been quite a surprise, but her reflexes were good. She managed to jam on the brakes and come to a stop without touching the pedestrian.

Our pedestrian should have stopped where she checked her stride and waited to make eye contact with the driver. Once the driver had seen her and she evaluated her safety to cross the driver’s path, she may or may not have proceeded forward. Instead it was either no thought at all or complete trust in the driver looking both ways again before moving and allowing the pedestrian to cross. I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt and assume the latter.

Giving your trust to the other road user is something that must be calculated very carefully before you do it. Obviously, if you do and the other road user doesn’t merit that trust the outcome can be significant. I must be a bit more on the paranoid side because I stopped at the curb and waited for the driver to clear the intersection before I looked around and then proceeded because it was safe.

For more information about this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

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