They say your life passes before your eyes just before you die. I don’t know if that’s true but a close call on May 27 made me realize I‘m not eager to find out.
Walking back from lunch, I stopped at a 3 way intersection about a block from KMM. There are 3 stop signs and a speed limit of 25 MPH. Signage reminds drivers to stop for pedestrians who are crossing the one way street. On this bright, sunny day, there were no vehicles in the intersection and none approaching. I looked left then right, and feeling it was safe, I stepped off of the curb and began to cross.
Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a SUV barreling toward me. Speeding closer and closer, the vehicle showed no signs of slowing down let alone stopping. It was going to hit me. With seconds to spare, I rushed back to the sidewalk. I focused my eyes on the driver, a well-dressed 60-ish man. A woman was in the passenger seat. The couple appeared to be arguing and looking at each other, not the street.
In the panic stricken moments that followed, I realized I was lucky to be alive, but was too stunned to scream, “you almost killed me!” Bill Neary, my colleague, witnessed the incident, and did the yelling for me. But, it didn’t matter. The SUV was long gone and the driver totally unaware of the near miss.
Back in my office, I sat silently, taking deep breaths, and replaying the entire incident in my mind. I asked myself, “how did this happen?”
As a transportation specialist involved with traffic safety issues, I mentally reviewed the 3 Es of traffic management — Engineering, Enforcement and Education. The engineering and enforcement aspects including road design, pavement markings, speed limit and stop signs to control traffic were all present. The missing element was education.
Anyone who sits behind the wheel must respect the rules of the road and understand the risks and dangers of driving. Drivers must stay ALERT and pay attention to roadway conditions, speed limits and traffic signs. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is experiencing rage, anger, or other distractions should not drive until he or she is back to normal, especially in a downtown setting with many pedestrians walking around during the lunch hour.
This incident made me I realize that I am not only responsible for my own behavior and safety but, I must also be mindful of the improper driving behaviors of others. It reminded me that life is so unpredictable and that we should never take it for granted. You never know if you can go back home.