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Pedestrians aren’t simply collateral damage

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POSTED October 7, 2010 1:26 a.m.
pedestriann.  1. A person risking their lives in Manteca. 2. An inconvenient road obstacle for Manteca drivers. 3. People you flip off after almost hitting them in crosswalks.

I admit I am not without sin when it comes to driving.

However I have yet to do some of the more bozo things that go on in Manteca when it comes to some drivers who view pedestrians as collateral damage to their need to shave off a few seconds from trying to get from point A to point B.

While the vast majority of drivers acknowledge the right of pedestrians to exist and respond according to when they are in crosswalks or walking across driveways, there are a fairly sizeable amount of folks that believe the Department of Motor Vehicles issues hunting licenses to try and take out the quaint two-legged creatures.

The worst problems by far are people who still yak on cell phones while driving.

If you walk or jog around Manteca you will probably notice there are a fairly large number of folks who do just that. One time while I was at Spreckels and Yosemite waiting for the light to change I counted seven drivers talking away while they held a cell phone on one hand with the other hand on the wheel.

It is illegal because it can be a real distraction.

That’s not saying everyone who is talking on a cell phone poses a threat. But it does happen.

The worst instance was when I was jogging on the green and was halfway across the crosswalk at the base of the southbound Highway 99 on-ramp by Starbucks. I noticed a sedan in the curb lane accelerating. I quickly calculated that if I kept moving forward I might get clipped so I moved to the right out of the crosswalk and came to a stop. As I did that the car picked up even more speed. As the lady whisked by me she was talking on the phone. She didn’t even acknowledge I was in the street.

I’ve seen other cases where people on cell phones blow through red lights making a right turn oblivious to people halfway across the street.

That’s not to say pedestrians are off the hook. They shouldn’t enter crosswalks if conditions aren’t safe but then again one does need to cut them some slack.

In most cases I’ve seen the pedestrians were already well into the crosswalk. Also, if you err too much on the side of a caution as a pedestrian there are times you won’t be able to cross the street.

A letter writer a few days ago spoke to such a problem in front of Manteca High.

She’s right about drivers ignoring kids trying to cross the streets. And for the most part students do pay attention.

Unfortunately that isn’t the case with all of them especially after school.

The zombie act still exists on Center Street where teens walking with headphones look straight ahead won’t stop to look but step out onto the street regardless of oncoming traffic.

That isn’t nearly as bad as skate boarders who will simply shoot out from side streets where visibility - especially near the courthouse - is often blocked by parked vehicles and trees.

All drivers should try to be a pedestrian sometime covering a bit of distance whether it is walking or jogging.

It has made me more conscious when I’m driving. I honestly don’t think most drivers give a second thought to going all the way to the gutter when coming out of a parking lot driveway instead of stopping behind the sidewalk.

Again, they aren’t looking for pedestrians but for traffic on the road.

Manteca Police are doing their part to remind drivers that pedestrians should not be ignored.

They conducted a crosswalk sting last month that nabbed a few drivers although most did stop for the decoy. They waited until pedestrians were almost all the way to the curb instead of just hitting the gas the second they passed beyond a vehicle’s bumper.

Showing common courtesy or actually following the law when a pedestrian is in the street will only cost you a few seconds. It is time well spent.
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