The other day while I was walking around Marquette on my lunch break, something happened that nearly stopped my heart.
At the corner of Third and Washington streets, a car missed by inches hitting a tiny elderly lady. The woman was in the right in crossing the street when she did but the car was apparently driven by someone in too big a hurry to obey traffic laws. The driver turned from Third onto Washington and almost clipped this woman who was dressed in bright yellow, by the way, and easy to see as she moved across the street as the walk/don't walk signal indicated she should.
Had I been closer, I might have been able to catch the license plate number but alas, the idiot sped off. The lady walked in to the post office, so I followed her in to check on her. She told me she was OK and not to worry.
"It happens all the time," she said. "One of these days I suppose they will get me."
Which made me want to cry. Danger to pedestrians should NOT happen all the time.
But she was right, this sweet diminutive woman: Drivers are a hazard to walkers all too frequently. In the past few months, our area has had several tragic incidents in which pedestrians have been killed.
It's an important topic for drivers and for those who walk.
Even just walking through a parking lot can be an experience akin to avoiding a gremlin in a video game. For whatever reason, drivers think that going 25 mph or more through a parking lot is perfectly fine and seem to have little regard for those walking in the vicinity.
Is that impatience? Stupidity? Both?
Now, sometimes the pedestrian might be at fault, jaywalking through a busy intersection. And occasionally, as a driver I am annoyed by someone who strolls right up the center of a parking lot, oblivious to those who are trying to secure a place to park.
Seriously, though. Is it worth it to be in that much of a hurry to risk injuring or killing another person?
Moreover, would a few years (or a lifetime) in jail be worth the risk of talking on your cell - or worse texting - while motoring through an area people are walking? How about the guilt of taking another's life: Is that something you can live with?
Winter's not too far away and I worry about those who are out walking. Winter driving is a challenge, no doubt, but snow-season walking can also be a tricky proposition.
Most definitely, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to, well, walk defensively. The life saved may be one's own.
My fervent hope, however, is that someone reading these words might take to heart this request: Please slow down and keep an eye out for pedestrians. A few seconds saved is not worth the risk of injuring someone. Ever.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.