The wrong-of-way

Rainy afternoon drive to Los Angeles.

Dear Vermont Avenue Jaywalker,

Did you just give me the finger? Did you seriously have the audacity to turn around and cuss me out in sign language? I thought my eyes might have deceived me, because you had no reason to flip me off. But after consulting with my key witness, the driver, it has become apparent that you have just indeed flipped me the bird.

No no no no no, dear Jaywalker. It is I that should be flipping you off.

Yes, I understand that the driver of my car made a very reckless move by nearly running you over as you were crossing the street in the designated crosswalk that had the Red Hand of Death. Yes, I understand he may have been kind of a douche about it. But I can guarantee that I might have done the same thing had I been in the driver’s seat.

According to my favorite handbook by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that I briefly had to skim through in order to pass the written portion of my driving test five years ago:

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection… (State law giveth you a decent reason to flip me off…)

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. (State law taketh away from you a decent reason to flip me off.)

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. (Which I probably could have done if you stepped out in front of my car 100 feet away, not 10 feet away. I don’t care if you decide to illegally jaywalk across the street, as long as it doesn’t force me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting your dumb ass.)

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. (Hence the reason my driver didn’t actually run you over.)

The sad fact of the matter is, that in California, pedestrians have the right-of-way. Is it because they cannot move as fast as a vehicle? Perhaps. Is it because they are more vulnerable than someone driving in a vehicle? Indeed. But Vermont Avenue Jaywalker, it’s people like you who abuse this power that make me wonder how easy it would be to get away with a hit-and-run.

After all, it’s much easier to control your body and say to yourself, “I’m going to press the crosswalk button and wait until I can safely and legally cross” than it is for me to control my vehicle already going 40 miles per hour.

Gray areas in the CDMV handbook would suggest that if you were to walk out in front of my car and get hit, I may still be held accountable, despite the fact you’ve grown up with Mommy telling you to look both ways before you cross any street. But these same gray areas may also suggest I’m not doing anything wrong by making it a point to drive unnecessarily close to you—not to harm you in any way; mainly just to make my point—when you interfere with my right-of-way.

The rules of the road go both ways, pal. When you’re illegally crossing a street at an intersection when you’re not supposed to, thinking that you own the road just because you’re on two feet, why should my brakes have to suffer for your stupidity?

Yours most sincerely,

Honda’s Biggest Fan

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About Charlotte Knight

I'm a lover and a fighter.
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