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Sun can make driving dangerous
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A postal carrier crosses South Main Street at the Moffat intersection. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Twice in two years pedestrians have been killed in Manteca after being struck by drivers who said they were “blinded” by the sun as they were driving westward.

They are the only Manteca pedestrian fatalities in the past five years.

“It is important that people drive as safe as conditions warrant,” noted Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion.

The police chief, while declining to comment specifically on the Woodward Avenue fatality this summer as that is an ongoing investigation or last year’s Center Street accident that is currently in the court system, said drivers should not assume driving posted speed limits will protect them from being cited for driving too fast.

Obligacion related how he ticketed a motorist while working traffic years ago who was traveling 25 mph in a 35 mph zone in dense fog.

“I couldn’t see him until he was on top of me,” Obligacion said of the driver that was heading toward him. “That was way too fast for the conditions.”

If drivers can’t see a safe distance due to weather conditions — whether it is dense fog, heavy rain or the sun —  they need to slow down. The same is true of road conditions and being able to safely drive whether the pavement is slick from rain, icy or road work is taking place.

At the same time, pedestrians should never step into the street unless it is safe to do so.

“Pedestrians should try to make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see them,” the chief said.”Even then, though, drivers can be looking at you but it may not register.”

The police chief said pedestrians don’t automatically have the right of way if they step off a curb especially if it is unsafe to do so. He also cautioned against “a false sense of security” that crosswalks” give pedestrians.

“You should always pay attention to cars even when you are crossing,” the chief said.

At the same time drivers need to pay attention to pedestrians and focus on driving and not allow themselves to be distracted.

He reemphasized going the posted speed limit may be dangerous when conditions compromise safety whether it is be environmental issues or road and travel conditions.