KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Angela Poe Russell: A PSA all pedestrians need to hear

May 22, 2024, 6:27 AM | Updated: 9:38 am

pedestrian sun glare...

The first heat wave of the year has arrived. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

I know for some of us it’s been years since we’ve had to take a driver’s exam (thank goodness) so, as a refresher, it’s the law that pedestrians — and all of us at one point will be one — have the right of way at intersections. It does not have to be a marked crosswalk.

But despite best efforts, life and the law don’t always mesh. Just because we as pedestrians have the right to cross at a given moment, doesn’t mean we should. For more reasons than I can count — think of drivers who are drunk, deviant, distracted, you name it.

But I want to talk about a more common scenario playing out on roadways and it contributes to more than 9,000 accidents each year. I’m talking about Sun glare.

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According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is the second environmental factor that leads to car crashes behind slick roads.

The summer and spring seasons are deceiving because we have more bright, clear days. But with sun glare, things can take a turn in a second. I experienced this the other day while driving. Even with glasses and pulling the visor down, the sun was blinding.

Suddenly, I had to slam on my brakes as a woman appeared in front of me moments from stepping onto the street. She was visibly frustrated because numerous cars had passed her by or almost hit her. The problem wasn’t distracted or impaired drivers or people who didn’t care — it was the sun creating this huge blind spot. And no one could see her until up close.

Thank goodness this woman was paying attention. But how many of us don’t and just assume a driver is going to stop? How many of us don’t look both ways? How many of us have the nerve to wear the air buds blasting music? OK, I’m guilty of that too!

But sometimes we need a reset, and this is a potentially life-saving one. Unfortunately, we can’t rely solely on other people and pedestrian signals. It’s ideal to make eye contact with drivers before crossing.

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I’m not trying to put all the responsibility on pedestrians. Drivers should slow down and look out for children or people in wheelchairs who are particularly vulnerable.

Ultimately, it is legally the drivers’ responsibility to watch for pedestrians and to ensure they operate their vehicle’s safely. But in life, when best efforts fail, pedestrians pay the price. And for that reason, I’ll take being safe over being right.

Angela Poe Russell fills in as a host on KIRO Newsradio and has been around Seattle media in different capacities for a number of years.

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Angela Poe Russell: A PSA all pedestrians need to hear