I’ve noticed that in the last week or so we’ve had one pedestrian struck and killed and another seriously injured in the urban area of Providence and Cranston.
I can tell you in both cases they were struck by ignorant drivers. How do I know this? Because I walk around the city quite a bit. There are areas where there’s right turn on red that people just keep streaming even though you have the right of way as a pedestrian. They don’t realize that the right on red rule says you stop and then proceed with caution. This is at an intersection with full traffic lights mind you.
Then there are free standing crosswalks. I’ve had people barrel down to try to get around me in a crosswalk, or barrel right towards me. I’ve adopted this look, I’ll look the driver right in the eye and tell him to stop his/her fucking car using appropriate hand gestures. Keyron tells me I’m kind of aggressive that way, and you’re damned right I am.
The worst offenders are the boys in blue. No lights, no sirens, but they’ll blow through a red light, through a crosswalk, whatever you have. Sometimes they’ll even hit the lights and siren to get through a light. It’s great fun btw, I’ve gotten to drive a vehicle equipped as such and it speeds things up. But it’s asshole behavior of the worst kind.
But then here in RI there’s this thing with about driving. I’ve driven everywhere on the east coast from Boston on down to Orlando. Here’s what I’ve noticed.
In states other than RI if you signal a lane change, a hole opens up. In RI drivers see the signal as a challenge and they’ll close any hole.
In addition, a red light in RI is merely a suggestion. A lot of that has to do with screwing with yellow light timing but alot of it is that when we see yellow it means hit the gas.
And the gods help you if you are at an intersection without a left turn signal. You can go through 4 or 5 light cycles before someone finally lets you through. This leads to what is referred to as the Rhode Island Slide. You just keep inching your car out into the intersection so drivers coming from the other direction can either stop, or hit your car.
Speed isn’t to much an issue on highways. I-95 once you get out of Providence starts moving along at 70MPH even though the speed limit is 55MPH.
I think what is missing is a little bit of courtesy. Slow down and/or stop for pedestrians, let the guy across from you make the left particularly if he’s signaling it. For the few seconds you take you improve the safety of the road for both cars and pedestrians.
Think about it, take 20 seconds to let a pedestrian cross five lanes, or hit the pedestrian and pay and pay.
This is why I’m such a supporter of autonomous vehicles. Right now the biggest obstacle in roadway safety is the human driver. Each driver has their own motivations etc. when they’re driving. Let the computer do it. The latest round of urban tests showed a clear winner. And that technology will only improve with time and filter down into production automobiles.
It’s already starting to happen. Toyota includes lane tracking and parking assist on it’s Prius. In other words, the car can identify the lanes and keep track of them. That wouldn’t work too well here in RI as most of the lane markings are so faded in places that the car would just freak out. But they use cameras to do the lane following. Which means they’ve figured out how to detect at least lines if not other objects.
I’d say we’re less than a decade from autonomous vehicles. And I can’t wait until they get here, just so long as they don’t use the Windows operating system.