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Distracted walkers are a growing safety issue

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POSTED May 4, 2017 1:30 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
While I agree with Dennis Wyatt’s column of May 3 I think he places too much responsibility on the driver.  To his credit, he writes about being constantly aware of his surroundings when on foot. This has not been my experience with pedestrians.
Last week I was parking in Oakland Airport at hourly parking. Shortly after I entered the parking lot a 70 something man was looking at his cell phone and walked directly in front of my slow-moving car. He never looked up. No more than 10 seconds later a 30 something man did the exact same thing. They had no idea I was there. I can’t count the times that folks have walked in front of my moving car fully depending on me to stop because of their trust that I am paying attention. People should consider that babies can choke, dogs can jump and what goes on inside a vehicle is not always under perfect control. People on foot have the right of way but extrapolating that logic to moving vehicles would mean that collisions would not occur. As Dennis points out, the right of way should not alleviate taking personal responsibility for your own safety.
I remember an incident about 20 years ago when I first moved to California. A visitor from Chicago was having a horrible time trying to get to his car after leaving Albertsons. He did not trust that people would stop as he entered the crosswalk. I stopped for him and asked him where he was from back East. He looked at me like I was I psychic. I explained that crossing the street was much different in California than back East.
One incident where I almost hit someone happened at the Dollar General on Main Street. I had put my groceries in my truck. I started my vehicle, checked my mirrors and did a visual check. I saw nothing. Unfortunately, a lady on a scooter pulled right behind my truck. She was not visible and her flag was blocked by my roof column. I almost ran her over. Would it have been my fault? Legally yes, but she pulled right behind a vehicle that is backing up to a spot where she was absolutely not visible. 
I have had kids on bikes come from behind my field of vision at stop signs and pull in front of me just as I was starting to pull out.
The right of way doesn’t keep you safe.  Be a good pedestrian and save us drivers from heart palpitations.

Mark Laurora
Manteca

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