Monday, October 30, 2023

Remember what Uncle Ben said

 By Barb Chamberlain

Spider-Man's Uncle Ben said it best: "With great power comes great responsibility."

That power lies in your hands and under your foot when you're behind the wheel.

We're coming up on the most pedestrian-friendly and kid-friendly date on the calendar: Halloween. Or at least it should be.

But research tells us the relative risk of a child 4-8 years old dying on Halloween because a driver struck them is 10 times higher than it is the rest of the year. The American College of Emergency Physicians says the biggest threat to trick or treaters is vehicles, not tainted candy or the other hazards parents may fear.

On Oct. 31 — and every night — if you drive it's up to you to make it safe for those outside your vehicle.

Halloween is this Tuesday and that means lots of trick-or-treaters so if you’re driving please be alert, slow down and be patient to make it a safe holiday for everyone. Kids can be unpredictable so drivers should always be prepared, alert and do their part to keep them safe.

Some of the factors for you as a driver that come together and determine whether you’re going to change — or end — someone’s life year-round, not just on Halloween:

WalkSafe (a program at the KiDZ Neuroscience Center) and the National Safety Council provided some Halloween-specific tips to go along with our other reminders to drivers below. We've added a few reminders of Washington state law (and the laws of physics) and a couple of additional pointers.

  • Reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour or less in neighborhoods whether you see children or not. Just because the sign says "SPEED LIMIT 30" doesn't mean you should drive 30 miles per hour, especially on a night when you should expect children to be out and about.
    •   RCW 46.61.400 tells you not to drive "at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions" and "In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person no matter what the posted speed is."
    •  If you want your neighborhood to have a posted speed of 20 mph, ask your city to consider using the Neighborhood Safe Streets Law in RCW 46.61.415 . They don't have to do an engineering study to lower the speed limit.
    • A car traveling at 30 miles per hour travels about 100 feet in 2.3 seconds, the average reaction time for drivers.

  • If you see a group of kids at or near the side of the road, slow your vehicle to walking speed and give plenty of room. Remember, excited kids will act like excited kids; parents may be overwhelmed.
    • RCW 46.61.245 requires drivers to "exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and...exercise proper precaution upon observing any child..."
    • That Spider-Man mask may make it hard for the child to see you.
    • If they’re using a foot scooter they move faster than walking speed. They’ll come into and out of your view more quickly than you’re expecting.
  • The nose of your car must stop behind the stop line at all intersections, whether you see a pedestrian or not. Never stop ahead of the line.
    •   This refers to intersections with marked crosswalks and/or stop lines.
    • Remember that under RCW 46.61.235 you must stop for pedestrians at both unmarked and marked crosswalks. Every intersection is a legal crossing unless crossing is officially prohibited under RCW 46.61.240 (which is a limited set of circumstances).
  • Be extra patient when letting trick-or-treaters cross the street. It can be a chore to keep a group of excited kids orderly, and a child may drop something while crossing. Stay stopped until the entire group has passed.
  • Treat any neighborhood street with no sidewalks as if you were driving on the sidewalk. The street is this neighborhood's sidewalk.

    Halloween safety tips graphic
  • Treat driveways and alleys like intersections. Before you pull out, stop, look, and look again.
  • Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.

Once we get past Halloween, daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 5. We head into the winter months with their darker, shorter days when statistics tell us more drivers hit more pedestrians than at other times of the year. The power to save people’s lives will still be in your hands and under your foot. Great responsibility, indeed.

1 comment:

CC (Concerned Citizen) said...

Regarding Pedestrians:

I absolutely always watch for pedestrians and not only at intersections. Most of them don't even use intersections. I see more people crossing the streets at night wearing dark clothing and it's very scary. I think if this is a habit of theirs, someone may not see them in time then they'll be seriously injured or worse. Drivers have a hard enough time seeing motorcycles, let alone pedestrians. I wish that I could hand out reflective vests to all those pedestrians.

I don't know if something happened to this guy that was on the shoulder of I-5. He would act like he was going to run right in front of my car by throwing a leg out as if he was going to run, then jumped back onto the shoulder. This happened two different times in two different areas. I haven't seen him since the second incident. Had anyone else reported this or have additional information? That's something that would weigh on my conscience for the rest of my life if I would have hit him. And he just pointed and laughed. I saw that in my rear view mirror. I wonder if witnesses would have stuck around.

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