Since the meager age of three, I have known to look both ways before crossing a street. My mother used to take my hand in hers, tell me to look left, then right, ensuring no cars came from any direction prior to crossing. Now, at age 25, I no longer need my mom to hold my hand. I cannot say the same for some of the students on this campus. Growing up on the east coast in New York, jaywalking got the offender a ticket. Jaywalking remains illegal in the United States, but the offense won’t land you in the slammer, and nine times out of ten the offender can get away with it.
I continue to apply the rules of crossing the street to my everyday life, in school and out of school. I would like to raise awareness to some of the pedestrians out there; even though you still stroll on campus, the rules still apply for your safety. When I began attending SDSU, I heard rumors that if a car hits a student on campus, the driver has to pay that student’s tuition. This statement has proven false, but the mentality remains the same. Students still think they will have their tuition covered if hit by a car on campus.
When a person jaywalks they risk getting hit. An average car weighs anywhere from 2500 to 5000 lbs, and being hit by one, whether they travel at five mph or 50, still hurts. I wish that those of you who have your i-Pods on, yakking on your cell phones, would please pay attention. How can you have confidence enough to simply cross the road without taking a second glance? If you lack attention yourself, what guarantee do you have that the driver behind the wheel does?
As for the drivers out there, myself included, you will get to class faster then any walker, so slow down and keep your eyes open. Pay special attention while driving near and on campus the same as you would near an elementary school. If you hurry to get a decent parking place before class, may I suggest getting to campus 15 minutes before your course begins. An average class gets dismissed ten till the hour, and if you arrive on campus five minutes before then, you can avoid waiting for people to cross the streets at random points. Drivers, if you see someone standing on the side of the road waiting to cross, take the initiative to stop and let them cross. Even though you might get frustrated waiting for the crosser who takes their sweet time, you still have quicker means of getting to class by driving.
The law states that you must stop for pedestrians in cross walks, and jaywalking remains illegal. With that said, if people walk in the crosswalks and vehicles stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, then we have succeeded in working this problem out together.
If we work together, perhaps it will save someone’s life or limb. If you, the pedestrian, remember these words, “look before you cross,” you avoid getting hit. I don’t need to paint a picture of a person splattered by a car.
Some of you, I know, may not have vehicles nor drive on campus; therefore, I will enlighten you a moment. Let us put ourselves into a driver’s perspective for a moment. A few years ago, a friend of mine called me hysterical. She was driving her car on her way to work, running late and in a hurry. A cyclist darted out in front of her car, and with little time to react, she nearly hit the person. Let us also imagine if the story had ended fatally. How do you think she would feel if she received a sentence of vehicular manslaughter even though it seemed the cyclist had the death wish? Personally I don’t feel it fair that a driver have complete blame if the other person was careless. Try to put yourself in the opposite person’s shoes; if you, a pedestrian, think as a driver and vise versa, what would you do in the other person’s place?
In closing, I want to make it clear that I do not accuse one group over another, so these words are to student commuter and pedestrian alike. Speaking from experience both as a walker and a driver, I must protest that I do not pretend perfection, and therefore, point no blame to pedestrian, cyclist or driver alone. I must only suggest that you please look before you cross.