By Jordan W. Charness
This is probably one of the toughest times of the year to drive safely. It is getting dark much earlier, the road begins to frost, black ice begins to form, and when the temperature drops so do our spirits. When the clock is turned back we have to finally admit to ourselves that winter will be here once again. Although it is dark outside it is still early in the day and there are many people out walking after the sun goes down. This poignant letter I received drives home the dangers of the season.
“I decided to write to you, to tell you about my story. Why you? My husband reads your articles in the newspaper and cuts them out for me to read. I have also been watching and listening to the ads put out by the government getting drivers and pedestrians to be more aware of each other. So I decided to do something, to write to you and tell you my story and maybe you could let everyone know what happened so that people will be more careful.
Before the accident, I used to jaywalk without thought. Now jaywalking and driving have taken on a whole new meaning for me. This is what happened:
On Friday night I made plans to go watch a movie with my friends. I left my house in the evening to go pick up my friends. I was running a bit late and so I sped up. Then I thought about the TV commercial about being late and slowing down. I told myself to slow down. As I was driving I noticed two teenagers crossing the street. They were jaywalking. I thought to myself, “Okay, they will stop crossing because they see a car coming.” So I continued to drive never expecting what happened next.
One of the teenagers took one step further and stepped right in front of my car. I felt the car hit something and I could not believe it. I had hit a human being! I do not remember how I stopped the car. I remember being stopped and thinking “Oh my, I cannot believe what just happened.” The next thing I did was to pick up my cell phone and call 911. I saw the other teenager on his cell phone as well. The ambulance came quickly and arrived just as I was getting off the phone with the emergency responder at 911.
I then called my father-in-law because I knew that he could get to me quickly. While I was on the phone with my father-in-law a man came up to the car window. He wanted to know if I was on the cell phone when the accident happened. I said no and the man told me that he was the father of the boy that I hit.
I waited in the car. I did not want to get out of the car to see the young man on the road beside my car. I couldn’t bear the image. The cops came. The ambulance took the teenager to the hospital. The police told me later that the young man, just 15 years old, had died.
After the car accident when I am out walking and come to an intersection, I always wait for the green light and never cross on the red. If I must cross in the middle of the street I make sure to carefully look both ways and never go when I see a car coming. I am still working on my driving because it still frightens me. I now seem to be more aware of pedestrians than I am of the cars around me. I am currently seeing a psychologist for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Now, I am part of the statistics. I see pedestrians still taking chances when walking on the road and I feel like screaming out to them to make them realize what they’re doing. I hope that by telling you my story you will transmit it to others so that pedestrians will think twice about how they walk in and across the streets. It only takes one moment and your life changes forever.”
This heartrending story happens more often than we like to think. Every year in Canada, several hundred pedestrians die or are injured from being hit by cars.
In this particular case and those similar to it, the driver may not be charged with any criminal proceedings since she was not at fault. The teenager should not have been crossing in front of her and she could not have expected that he would do so. For her it was a tragic accident that will remain with her for the rest of her life. For the teenager, it was a moment of inattention that put an end to his life.