Things we’ve grown up with; playing with our friends in the park, riding a bike, going to school and… looking both ways before crossing the street. Remember how your parents always taught you to do that as pedestrians and now as parents we teach our own kids to do the same thing? Should we continue to do that as a driver? What about if you’re crossing across a one way street? Do you need to check both directions?
I was recently crossing across a one way street which was going from my left to my right when a cyclist came from my right to the left. If I was only going by the signs and trusting that everyone would do what they were supposed to do, I wouldn’t need to check to my right. But that would have caused injury, or worse to the cyclist. Have you ever found yourself trusting that other road users will do what they are supposed to do? Should you?
Over the almost 25 years as a driving instructor with Young Drivers of Canada, I’ve often had students ask me why they need to look to the right when it’s a one way street going to the right. I usually point out that pedestrians or cyclists could come from the other side of the street, or even drivers who could be driving the wrong way on a one way street. How many times have you seen that happen?
Looking out for the unexpected is always a good rule of thumb when driving. Never assume the other road users will do what they are supposed to do. If everyone did what they were supposed to do, there wouldn’t be crashes and insurance rates would be so small we wouldn’t even think about them. But that’s not the case.
Look for all road users too, not just cars, trucks, mini vans and SUV’s. Look for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles. Look for those who may have been confused about the local road system within your community. Some road users are quite unfamiliar with a one way street system (please see http://safedriving.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/830/ for reference) and will make mistakes. It’s up to us as drivers to help everyone on the road survive.
The other thing to remember is not all pedestrians and cyclists are drivers of motor vehicles. They don’t think like drivers and won’t respond like drivers. We need to respect their knowledge base, or lack thereof, and help them stay safe. Perhaps even help to educated them about what the safest paths to take while traveling on those roads would be. Communication about road safety is always a two way street.