An Open Letter to Drivers Everywhere From A Pedestrian

Dear Drivers:

Do you remember when you were sixteen and you nervously devoured the driver’s manual for weeks before you went to the RMV to fork over $10-$20 to take a freakishly timed test that would determine whether or not you would be granted a Learner’s Permit?  Do you remember enrolling in a Driver’s Ed course that your Mom wouldn’t let you drive to or from, but sometimes Dad would and sitting in a classroom with a bunch of other snot-nosed teenagers and that one random twentysomething to learn about all the rules and laws of the road?  Do you remember your Driver’s Ed teacher taking you to some banal suburban neighborhood to drive around in circles, practice three point turns and parallel park between trashcans?  Do you remember all these things?  Do you remember?

Because as a life-long pedestrian who has never taken Driver’s Ed, never learned how to do a three point turn, never read the driver’s manual, never actually, legally driven on the road, even I know a thing or two about our driving rules and laws.  I know that (in MA) it is a law that you must stop if there are people walking in the crosswalk.  I know that there’s no passing when there’s a double yellow line down the center.  I know that it’s roughly five second between one direction getting a red light and the other getting the green.

But today, while walking to the dentist’s office to have him pump my face full of anesthetic and refill the hole in my tooth that he filled just over a year ago, I came to an intersection with a traffic light and a walk signal and a crosswalk.  This intersection also happens to be next to a school and near a hospital, so believe me when I say: the walk signal works (unlike other walk signals in my town).  I got to the crosswalk and pushed the button, then glued my eyes to the walk signal while grooving to my tunes.

Not one, but two cars stopped to let me cross while they had a fucking green light.  I may not be a driver, but I think it’s hardly fair to stop just through an intersection to let a pedestrian who has pushed the walk signal and isn’t paying attention to the oncoming traffic walk across when there is a long fucking line of cars behind you during a green light.  But maybe that’s just me.

(And stopping in one direction doesn’t really help the pedestrian (just so you know) if drivers in the other direction don’t stop/don’t see you walking/aren’t paying attention because they too have a green light.)

Rules and laws of the road were set up for a reason, people.  They were set up to protect drivers and pedestrians alike.  The walk signal was made to make pedestrians lives easier.  If there is no walk signal and you want to be kind and let someone cross, please do.  The walker will appreciate it and karma will be on your side.  But if there is a fucking walk signal, don’t feel bad about not stopping.  Good pedestrians know what they are doing.  Just like you trust other drivers (although I don’t know why you do) to follow the rules and stay aware, you should trust pedestrians to follow the rules and stay aware.  Trust me, pedestrians are probably more aware of traffic than the average driver.  We get hit, there aren’t any airbags that are going to protect us from the blow.

Also: please, please, please use your fucking directional.  Please.  Whether you are turning a corner or pulling into a parking spot or pulling into your driveway.  The times I’ve nearly been hit by a car has not been when crossing the road or walking on streets with no sidewalks, it has been in parking lots or when people are pulling into driveways.  It has been mostly because people don’t put on their blinker.  Pedestrians gauge how fast to walk or whether or not to stop by the cars that are moving around them.  If a car is going to be turning into a driveway, we might slow down our pace to allow the car enough time to be in the driveway by the time we get there, or we might speed up if the car is further away and we’re nearly there.  But by not using your fucking directional we assume that you are not turning and therefore do not change our pace.  You don’t always see us on the sidewalk and don’t notice us until you’re nearly on top of us.  So please, please, please use your fucking directional so in case there is a pedestrian she or he will know how to adjust their movements.

Yours (somewhat dis)respectfully,

A Pedestrian


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