Drivers and pedestrians — see and be seen
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, March 24 2017
Along time ago, I learned to look at pedestrians’ feet. It’s the best way of predicting their direction of travel.
Professional drivers not only seek eye-to-eye contact with pedestrians, they also look at their feet.
It’s equally important for pedestrians to look for approaching vehicles of all types.
Pedestrians should not be shy about raising an arm and pointing in their intended direction of travel, so drivers don’t have to guess which way they want to go.
Driving with front and back lights in the on position attracts the attention of all road users.
It also creates the impression of proximity, which is absent when vehicles are not illuminated.
Pedestrians deciding whether to cross the road in front of oncoming traffic are much less likely to take a chance when an approaching vehicle’s headlights are on full, not just in a running setting.
The same goes for tail lights when it comes to preventing rear-end collision.
Flashing the high beams will alert oncoming traffic to various dangers.
The effective use of four-way flashers does the same thing for following traffic.
The most common words uttered immediately after a crash are: “I never saw it coming.”
Where, when and how we observe others when driving is very important.
It’s also important for others to see drivers.
It’s a good idea for drivers to use hand signals as well as electric signals to better draw attention.
Again, this personalized warning is very effective in showing directional intent.
The vehicle horn is probably used more in anger than in a constructive manner.
Using the horn tap to warn pedestrians is a good way to get their attention.
It can be done prior to making a right turn, as walkers wait for the “walk” signal to appear.
Two taps of the horn are a good idea before backing up.
There are many public and private corporations that have wired beepers to sound in their vehicles when their drivers are backing up.
Neither pedestrians nor drivers are mind readers. It’s about time we all got better at nonverbal communication.
Signalling is another way of communicating intent to turn, park, change lanes or pull on and off the road.
Give others at least a three-cycle signalling warning of any such intent.
Drivers should always consider the not-so-obvious.
For instance, many pedestrians are not drivers.
They do not have an appreciation for the driving task.
Children might dart in front of vehicles, without warning.
Distracted pedestrians have been known to walk into lamp posts, while gazing at their handheld devices.
On the other hand, almost all drivers are walkers.
Setting a good example is the best way to influence others, whether drivers or pedestrians.
Try to communicate intent whenever the opportunity presents itself.
If you raise your arm to show the direction you wish to go at a crosswalk, others might catch on and copy your behaviour.
When you use the four-way flashers as a warning signal, others might feel comfortable doing so.
Getting eye contact is a good thing. Initiating such non-verbal communication is contagious.
It can become the norm rather than the exception.
Here is a suggestion for those who wish to participate.
For a week or two, pick one of the above suggested behaviours and put it into practice.
It does not matter which one you choose, as long as it is not your regular habit.
Over the next few weeks, this action will serve two purposes.
It will be like a self-directed safety system and it will get the attention of others.
After all, courtesy is contagious!