Home > Car Culture > Beware of vehicles slowing while approaching crosswalks

Beware of vehicles slowing while approaching crosswalks

Bus at Crosswalk - by Oran Viriyincy

As a bus driver, one of the things I dread is the possibility of seeing somebody injured or killed.  I have heard many stories of the trauma associated with witnessing such an event and frankly, I want no part of it.  A recent news story, about a teenager on Mercer Island being hit while, of all things, *walking* his bike across the street in a marked crosswalk, reminded me of a common situation I see while driving.  It goes like this:

I’m driving my bus on a 4 lane road.  I approach a crosswalk with an individual waiting to cross the street.  As required by RCW 46.61.235, I stop my bus to allow the pedestrian or cyclist to cross.  The nightmare begins when I see a car racing up the left side of my bus, completely unaware of the pedestrian crossing in front of me.  That driver has no way of seeing the pedestrian but they DO have the ability to figure out what is going on.  “Hmmm…  The bus is stopped at a crosswalk, what could possibly be happening here?”  I’m pretty aware of this particular hazzard so I’m careful to follow Metro policy and stop far back from the crosswalk to give other drivers visibility.  I’ve also taken to either blocking both lanes with my bus or sticking my hand out of the window signaling the car to STOP!  So far, it’s worked although sometimes the car has to slam on their brakes since they don’t figure it out until it’s almost too late.

So, when you see the vehicle next to you in traffic slowing when approaching a crosswalk, marked or not, for goodness sake, just STOP!  Ok?

Update:

Here’s another example that sadly did not turn out well.  Be safe out there!

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  1. Jeff Welch
    July 25, 2010 at 2:00 am | #1

    Agree. My understanding is that most car-pedestrian accidents actually occur in crosswalks. As a bus driver, I’ll not only stop for those crossing (at marked or unmarked crosswalks) but put on my “4-ways” to encourage drivers around me to be aware that I’m stopping for more than just a second.

    FYI, I find Lindlblom’s question accusing you of “setting up” a crosswalk-user for being hit by stopping in the right lane pretty disgusting.

    • Jeff Welch
      July 25, 2010 at 2:01 am | #2

      I have also stuck my arm out of the driver’s side window to wave drivers obviously looking to pass while I’m stopping for a pedestrian down. Sometimes it actually works. Not sure what the alternative is.

      • Tim
        July 25, 2010 at 6:05 am | #3

        Drive a yellow bus that has alternating red lights.

  2. c_maar
    July 25, 2010 at 2:08 am | #4

    It is helpful to stop a healthy distance (say 50 feet) before the crosswalk to improve sight distance between the ped and other driver.

  3. July 25, 2010 at 2:47 am | #5

    I think I get what Michael is asking. In short I don’t “blow” through a crosswalk although I sometimes proceed through when the pedestrian is obviously waiting for lighter traffic. As I replied in Twitter, it’s highly dependent on the situation as you well know.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that everybody needs to look at the situation and act accordingly. Even if a bus is stopped a bus zone without a crosswalk, it’s a good idea for drivers to slow down in case a passenger unwisely crosses in front of the bus.

  4. Michael Gillman
    July 25, 2010 at 6:07 am | #6

    The law requires you to stop so you have to stop. You can be ticketed for failue to do so and the excuse that you didn’t want to “set up the pedestrian” won’t be a valid excuse. What may be possible is to angle the coach or your car in such a manner that you block both lanes. Remember that you are responsible for your actions not for the actions of others. The pedestrian also has the responsibility to pay attention when crossing the street and not expect cars to automagicly stop cause they won’t.

  1. July 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | #1

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