Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year


Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 11 - November 6, 1997

Regarding your recent coverage of Scott Geller's crosswalk safety program (October 16 and 23), I would like to offer another perspective from the standpoint of the driver of a vehicle that weighs anywhere from one to two tons. Granted, one should be, and is required by law to stop such a vehicle for people who have entered a crosswalk and under a few other circumstances. At the same time, it is highly inappropriate to suggest that one should feel even the slightest obligation or even inclination to do so otherwise, except perhaps in the case of a pedestrian who is obviously impaired.
Why should the momentum of a large vehicle be wasted and require re-establishment to save a few seconds for a pedestrian who can stop and start on a dime? The situation is much worse if there are other vehicles that must stop behind the first. In that case, I would say that there is considerable discourtesy on the part of the person who stops. Who is he or she to decide to hold up several vehicles to allow a pedestrian (not already in a crosswalk) to pass? I have even had vehicles stop for me when I was standing well back from the curb with the intention (pardon me) of jaywalking.
Compounding this problem is the behavior of some pedestrians who evidently think it is the responsibility of motorists to help them cross the street. One of the most dangerous manifestations of this attitude is exemplified by people who have just gotten off of the bus (where there is no crosswalk). I have observed groups walk boldly from behind the bus as if they thought it was a school bus and that traffic in both directions had to stop. Add that to pedestrians who lazily saunter across the street after successfully stopping traffic, and you can understand the frustration many motorists feel.
Robert B. Frary, professor emeritus