The Social Diary ~
on-line magazine covering High Society ..& more
- San Diego 3rd on the most Killed Pedestrian List
The Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #11, April 23rd, 2006
When Walking - How Safe Are You?
You may be surprised to hear that according
to a 2004 Mean Streets report that monitors how safe we are walking
throughout the United States, they have rated San Diego among
the top three most dangerous cities when it comes to pedestrian
fatalities. New York City comes in number one, followed by Miami
as number two.
In New York City most people walk and use
mass transit, for Miami and San Diego weather has more people
walking and a large number of tourists that visit. But it's how
we walk, or jog, that's killing us. From what I see through reports,
and have experienced personally - we forget the basics of "walking
safety" and that is the biggest contributor to our injuries
and fatalities. What are the basics we forget?
" Look in all directions before crossing
and keep looking as you cross
" Cross at corners where people expect to see someone crossing,
hopefully at a corner with a signal or STOP sign
" Do not jay-walk or cross mid-block
" Do not walk out from between parked cars
" Cross with signals if possible and do not walk against
a flashing "red", or solid
" Do not cross against a "red light!"
" When walking at night - be aware of what you're wearing:
wear light colored clothing, or wear reflective tape on your shoes,
pants, jackets etc - even on the collar of that dog you may be
" If in a wheel chair have the tall stick with the orange
bright flag that brings attention to you
" And pedestrian law is not going to save you when you step
out into traffic without making sure the driver sees you by making
eye contact and comes to a complete stop. Drivers often impair
themselves in numerous ways - it's not just alcohol, it can be
talking on a cell phone, turning their head to talk to a passenger
or changing the radio station or putting in a CD - even reading
their mail or a newspaper..
That brings up my personal issue I mentioned
earlier in that my father was killed as a pedestrian when struck
by a DUI driver. One vehicle had already stopped for my father,
the second approaching vehicle did not. Don't assume that if one
car stops next car will as well. Make eye contact with motorists,
and don't step in front of them until they come to a FULL STOP
- Use caution when crossing.
What many of us don't know, we can lose
more than our life when crossing "illegally." By jay-walking,
walking or jogging against a red light and we're struck by a vehicle…if
the driver is not cited and we as the pedestrian is found at fault,
then that drivers' insurance company will not have to pay for
your injuries or funeral costs, and your own insurance company
may not pay as well. This will then become an "out of pocket"
expense. Another factor, latest figures show that 40 percent of
the driving public does not have insurance like they legally should.
Something to keep in mind while driving and why we need to be
100 percent alert behind the wheel - and as a pedestrian.
Also, another important item to mention,
as you cross with your children...are you educating them on the
"safety factor." If you're pushing that stroller, or
taking your child by the hand and crossing with them against red
lights and/or jaywalking - you're teaching them to ignore "safety"
laws made for our safety. You may be teaching them a practice
that could lead to their death or injury in the future. You are
the biggest role model for your child in all that you say and
do, especially when it comes to "safety."
Back to traffic signals, some improvements
are being made to enhance our safety factor. In some cities you'll
see that the walk signal may pop on prior to the light turning
green for vehicle traffic, or, there's a countdown signal, letting
you know how much time you have to cross. But walk with a fresh
green signal, or fresh "walk" signal. But, if you come
to the corner and the walk signal is a flashing or solid red hand,
wait for the next light cycle. Don't take the risk of crossing
"illegally" - you're risking your life.
The issue for seniors has been in the news
lately with the recent story of an elderly woman being cited for
taking too long to cross. There may have been some other circumstances
involved of why the officer chose to cite her. But I've also heard
the complaint of signals changing too quickly for some crossing
areas. Please contact your city traffic engineer if you have a
concern for a signal in your area. If you do walk slowly due to
age or health reasons please schedule your walks later in the
morning after the morning rush has started to clear out. Motorists
can become very impatient and/or inconsiderate when they're running
late and they feel you are making them wait. Also, cross where
it's safest, even if it means having to go an extra block or two.
Keep your risk factor low.
Note: Let me tell you of an incident in
which someone with a white cane was crossing a street in the North
County when an impatient motorist brushed past him literally putting
this pedestrian into a spin and luckily without injury. An officer
witnessed this driver's behavior. It resulted in a $1,500 fine
for the driver.
Motorists - please consider leaving an
extra 15 to 20 minutes earlier for your destination. This will
greatly reduce the stress factor for your commute especially when
it comes to pedestrians. Please be considerate of other commuters
whether they're driving or walking. It may seem like you're the
only one who is considerate of others - but you'll feel good and
so will our pedestrians. Treating others how you'd like to be
treated is something to keep in mind.
Another problem to mention…when pedestrians
deliberately walk behind vehicles trying to back out of a parking
space. Please - it takes just a few seconds to wait for this vehicle
to back up and leave rather than risk not being seen and hit.
It's a top complaint I hear and have also experienced. When walking
through a parking lot watch for back up lights or the exhaust
coming from the tail pipe, this tells you the engine is running
and this vehicle may be backing up. And when backing up check
carefully especially for children, whether you're in a parking
lot or backing out of your driveway. This has been a growing tragic
problem of parents backing over their own children.
Please be safe in everything you do and
your children will develop the same healthy habit. For additional
safety information on a variety of issues please visit my safety
website at www.monicazech.com. For a safety lecture please email
your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more safety information please visit
our web site at El
Monica Zech is the Public Information
Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El
Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please
visit El Cajon
Fire.com In community work, Zech is the President
on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF
and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA.
In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health
Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout
and visit Zech's
Web Site ,or Monica
Zech at (619) 441-1737.
to New this Week.......Monica
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