The crossing at dusk. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

Andrea Rondeau column: Someone honked at me for stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk

What does it take to not see both a pedestrian in the crosswalk and the flashing lights?

One morning this week while I was driving to work, I stopped for a woman who was walking in a marked crosswalk, amber lights flashing, on Canada Avenue.

No big deal right? This is driving regulations 101.

But not for the impatient and oblivious person behind me who honked their horn at me for stopping. A glance in my rearview mirror showed the person had even pulled out a little to the left, as if to try to pass me. This wasn’t even one of those cases where a pedestrian is just about to start into the crosswalk and a driver doesn’t really have time to stop. The woman was well into the crosswalk. What does it take to miss both her and the flashing lights?

Later in the week a woman sent me a letter to the editor, complaining that her daughter had almost been hit in a similarly marked crosswalk in Lake Cowichan not once, but three times.

I’ve personally had similar experiences as a pedestrian while walking around Duncan. Specifically on Jubilee Street north of the core drivers often pick up speed to where they are unable or uninterested in stopping for people using the numerous crosswalks that connect the side streets.

And that’s just the normal run of the mill drivers ignoring or not seeing pedestrians.

This month RCMP officers have written more than 40 tickets for distracted driving, with 16 being handed out to people with cell phone in hand on March 28 alone. That’s a $578 fine for the first offence. You’d think the threat of that hit to the bank account would be more than enough to get people to leave their phones alone while they’re behind the wheel. But I guess people just don’t think they’re going to get caught.

One can only imagine how little attention these cell phone junkies are paying to crosswalks and pedestrians.

I look at it like this: nothing is so important that it can’t wait until I can either pull over, or get to my destination. It’s not that long ago that nobody had a phone in their car, period. Somehow we all survived. It is not a necessity that you answer your phone while driving, it is an indulgence. Are you such a slave to your device, so addicted to its various notificiations that you’re willing to risk your pocketbook, and your life and the lives of others to check your screen?

Set yourself free, my friends. If you find it too tempting to have your phone within reach while you’re behind the wheel try putting it in the trunk. Out of sight, out of mind.

You don’t want to hit the front page of the paper because you’ve hit another person or vehicle.

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