Diatribe: Pedestrians are not invincible, especially in the dark
By AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media November 13, 2012 2:58PM
Updated: December 4, 2012 9:14AM
Usually my rants involve vehicles, driving characteristics and generally irksome things that make me want to turn Rambo. However, this week I’m writing something different — something most of us can relate to other than my usual desire to see people who don’t use their turn signals flogged to death with a cat-o-nine tails. It’s about pedestrians who think drivers have infrared vision and can see clearly in the dark.
These pedestrians move through the night like ghosts — except ghosts are smart enough to wear light-colored clothing, which reduces the possibility of being hit by a car. No, I’m talking about pedestrians who wear black pants, dark-colored shirts and black jackets. They really stand out on a moonless night, don’t they? These miscreants also generally walk on streets that lack lighting.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been forced to veer quickly so I don’t wing one of these nuts. Like many folks who get older, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. At one time in my life I could tell you the sex of a gnat at 1,000 yards in the middle of a monsoon. Not so any more.
I’m not one to give the government any more power than it has already grabbed, but I don’t think I would be against a law that would make it mandatory for anyone walking on an unlit thoroughfare to either wear reflective clothing or at the least be forced to walk with a lit flashlight. I wouldn’t enforce the same restrictions for those walking on sidewalks, but there aren’t sidewalks everywhere.
I don’t know how you feel about this but I, for one, do not want to be some bad man’s girlfriend because I’m sent to jail for hitting a pedestrian. Very seldom does one win when he or she hits a pedestrian with a vehicle, whether said pedestrian was seen or not.
Which brings us to other potential nocturnal victims: joggers. God, I hate those people! Running in the night wearing dark clothing. What are they thinking? Obviously, they’re not thinking.
So, as I always do, I have a proposal to make to all municipalities who allow their citizens to run around at night like salamanders trying to escape from a python: Anyone who is accidently hit by a car whose driver honestly couldn’t see them because it was dark and so were they should be made to lie in state outside the local general store with a sign indicating why they are on public display. Perhaps others will get the message and wear clothing that will announce their presence in the dark.
The exception, of course, is for the schmuck who is out on a sidewalk-less street and is struck and possibly killed by a driver who was under the influence. In that case, the judge should hire an unemployed union carpenter to build a first-class gallows, spend some money on advertising and public relations, and invite the public to a hanging of the person who couldn’t put down the bottle or wait until they got home to light up their roach.
There are too many instances of innocent people being killed by intoxicated drivers, and I do not mean to make light of that situation because it goes against every fiber of my being to ever forgive someone like that.
Al Vinikour is a Midwest-based freelance auto writer. Proving a mind is a “terrible thing to use” he sometimes sits in traffic and ponders about things — generally auto-related — that make him mad. Believing the “pen is mightier than the sword” (and generally results in a whole lot less jail time), he vents his anger through a word processor and produces the Driver’s Side Diatribe column. Email him at email@example.com.
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