My Turn: Slow down for everybodys safety
January 18, 2007
I have had this niggling feeling for sometime now and I hadnt been able to put my finger on the source until today. I make it a point to walk several miles every day regardless of the weather.Today I realized that every time I set out for a walk in my neighborhood (no sidewalks), my personal safety is a risk. As a matter of fact, we are all at risk when walking in our neighborhoods. Why? Most of us arent thinking very actively about our safety as we walk along four abreast, with the dog tagging along and our backs to traffic. Even worse is the Mother pushing her baby in a stroller with the family dog in tow and talking on her cell phone. Oh did I mention with her back to traffic?!! The reason I am making such a big deal about this is because many motorists in our neighborhoods dont have the good sense to slow down on the icy roads.In the recent past my husband was nearly run over by an out-of-control car. He was facing the oncoming traffic and was barely able to get out of the way. You get the picture. I recently asked a family I encountered why they walked with their backs to traffic. Each person had a different answer.I just didnt think about it. Our house is on this side of the street and we just didnt cross over. I think if you have your back to the traffic the driver will think you dont see the car and will look out for you. Yeah, if the driver thinks you see him he wont slow down. These were all interesting comments. I, however, am from the old school where we were taught to face traffic. Did that change?Now I want to comment to the drivers who find it necessary to rip through our neighborhoods. Some of you are residents. I observed a mother rushing her child to the bus stop this morning among others (shame on you). Some of you are construction workers, some of you are delivery folks and some of you are visitors. Unless the rules have changed and I missed it, the speed limit in a residential neighborhood is 25 mph. Common sense dictates slower speeds when the roads are icy. Some folks who drive the snazzy SUVs and the not so snazzy 4-wheel-drive vehicles dont seem to get it. They appear to have an image of themselves that they got from some TV commercial. You know the ones. The perfect driver, with the stylish haircut and the even more stylish sunglasses whipping through the frozen tundra throwing up snow behind the vehicle. Wow! I am not impressed. Did you ever notice there are no families in the car? I shared my concerns about those commercials with a representative from a major motor company. I said I thought they were irresponsible and sent the wrong message. The representative from the motor company said, We know there are problems but our job is to sell vehicles and we do whatever it takes.So where am I going with this? If you are out walking, especially in winter, walk facing the traffic, be alert, wear clothing that is easily seen, coach your children on walking safely (especially your invincible teens) and keep your dog on a leash.To the drivers who slow down for us, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For the unconscious drivers: allow more time to get where you are going, get off your cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel (drink the coffee later) and slow down, slow down, slow down. You may think you can stop in time to avoid a pedestrian or dog. Dont count on it. Your 4-wheel-drive vehicle cannot stop any better than any other on icy roads. For those drivers that dont seem to care, and I have seen plenty of them, my message to you isnt printable.Lynne Larson has owned a home in Truckee for almost 20 years and is deeply concerned about maintaining the quality of life she has come to love and cherish.