GUEST OPINION: Streetwise pedestrians are safe
By JUDITH FEIN, PH.D.
The Press Democrat all too frequently reports that another pedestrian in our community has been struck in a crosswalk. The cost in human lives and suffering is huge. Is this inevitable? Yes, unfortunately so — until both drivers and pedestrians take responsibility for their actions. However, you cannot control anyone’s behavior but your own.
Society has not caught up with technology. Drivers who are text messaging or speaking on their cellphones cause accidents. It is also possible that people talking on cellphones when they cross the street are preoccupied and don’t see oncoming vehicles.
There is a strong correlation between the “streetwise and body safe” techniques that I teach in self-defense workshops and the prevention of crosswalk tragedies. The same techniques that keep you from being attacked on the streets will prevent you from being the next crosswalk victim.
How do you avoid being attacked? Amazingly, over the past 35 years, almost 100 percent of the people I’ve asked responded the same way to one simple question, “Where did the assailant come from?” Their answer: “I don’t know.” Translation: The victim was not paying attention. Assailants attack people who are not aware.
The person who is most likely to be hit by a car in a crosswalk is also not paying attention. (So is the driver who hits a pedestrian).
Just as you learn to drive defensively because you need to protect your safety, you need to take charge or your own actions on the streets and in crosswalks:
• Be aware of vehicles approaching in both directions.
• As you cross the street, make direct eye contact with the driver, while extending your arm straight out and pointing directly at the driver’s face, signaling “Stop.”
• If you do not make eye contact, back off or risk getting run over.
By understanding the dynamics of body language and awareness, you will prevent being the next crosswalk victim.
You can learn these skills and much, much more through the three-hour “Streetwise and Body Safe” workshop that I conduct for the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department at the Finley Community Center.
Judith Fein, Ph.D. is the author of four books. Her new book is “Breaking the Intimidation Game — The Art of Self-Defense.” Her website is www.selfprotection.wpstagecoach.comselfprotection.com.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Please post something in the comments.