An elderly woman driving her car on Main Street recently experienced every driver’s nightmare. She hit a Westfield youth with her automobile. What a tragic situation for the driver, the victim and the victim’s parents, emotionally and physically. The youth was not in a crosswalk. Many youth who cross Main Street do not use the crosswalks.
Take a moment to imagine you are driving the speed limit east on Main Street after dark from Portage Street toward McDonald’s. You approach the crosswalk near Wilson Farms cautiously. There is no traffic stopped going westbound to indicate pedestrians in the crosswalk, understanding fully that stopped traffic is simply an indication of pedestrians. It doesn’t mean no one is crossing. Drivers must still be alert and watch for pedestrians.
Remember, it is dark. We were feet from the crosswalk when two teenage girls, dressed in dark clothing, never broke their stride as they reached the center of the street. We narrowly missed hitting them. As we passed, vulgar profanity filled the air from their mouths.
They walked across the street with a sense of entitlement, as if there were a barrier around them. While it is the law to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, pedestrians need to be alert as well. Whenever my husband or I cross at the crosswalk, day or night, we pause at the center of the street to ensure that oncoming traffic has seen us. Sometimes drivers stop, but sometimes they don’t. Parents, talk to your children and talk to your teens. A “Yield to Pedestrians” sign in the middle of the road is not necessarily a free “safe pass” to the other side. As Sergeant Burgess said in the newspaper article, always use the crosswalks, but for heaven’s sake, also use your God-given brain and common sense.
Carolyn and Peter Bills