In some cases, pedestrians
share the blame
Editor of the Reformer:
Vehicle drivers certainly bear responsibility to be watching for pedestrians and to be alert, undistracted by conversation and electronic devices, but it is also the responsibility of the pedestrian to be sure they are visible. This has been understated.
As a pedestrian, it is easy to feel more visible than one is. As a pedestrian, one can usually see pretty well, and just not realize how dark they are, and how late they come into a driver’s vision. I urge pedestrians to assume you are not easily visible, even in well lit areas and practice "defensive walking." I have caught myself on numerous occasions having dashed out, focused on my errand, only to realize I am darkly dressed, and not easily noticed, even at many crosswalks. We all need to think about it more.
As a driver, there are many times that, even though I am being careful and alert, I come across a pedestrian along the road, and realize I did not notice them until very late in approaching them, and that if they had tripped or taken a step sideways, I may not have had time to avoid them. It is scary, and usually due to dark clothing. A week ago, I was driving north on Putney Road, approaching Hannaford. I was in the main traffic lane, but noticed a man in dark clothing, walking north in the turn lane, near the bike lane. He was not very visible, and I cringed, nearly expecting that someone coming or changing into that lane would not notice him in time. I’m so glad to not have heard any thuds nor read about him in the paper.
Even more recently, I was leaving the high school, driving toward Walgreens. I noticed a light approaching, and was so pleased to realize a pedestrian had a flashlight for visibility. I certainly noticed that from a distance. However, as I neared the light, I realized that there were two walkers, and the person farther from traffic was the one holding the light. The man closest to traffic, was dressed in dark clothing, and was not as noticeable. I suspect he had a false security since his companion was carrying a light. I suggest with multiple walkers the person closest to traffic carry the light. This would provide drivers a truer perspective of where the walkers are.
Perhaps it should become part of town policy that in incidents involving pedestrians, they be fined if having not taken adequate steps for visibility, i.e. walking in road, dark or non-reflective clothing or jay walking.
Again, while I agree with all the admonitions to drivers to be careful and alert, and appreciate the efforts of the town to make adjustments in the roadways, pedestrians have responsibility. I appeal to pedestrians to assume that a driver does not see you easily, and dress defensively.
Brattleboro, Dec. 12