Be safe every time you cross a street.

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I grew up in one of the largest and most traffic congested cities in the world: el D.F.

Mexico City taught me at an early age to take safety precautions before putting myself in front of a moving vehicle. I learned that my crossing safety is only as safe as I am and that sometimes I compromised my safety by putting it in the hands of drivers. When I moved to Seattle I was impressed every time a car stopped to let me cross the street. I began to expect drivers to always follow the rules of the” right of way” — slow down or stop to let me cross. Needless to say, a car hit me one day when I tried to cross a street. The driver never slowed down to let me cross to the other side. That day, I learned not to compromise my safety, even if I have the right of way.

Unfortunately, when a driver ignores a pedestrian right-of-way, the pedestrian will ultimately lose with injury or death. In my case, as a result of the accident, I had to wear a cast and I had to use crutches to walk for a year. That year in crutches gave me a perspective I had not considered before. I realized that many — children, frail adults, people with disabilities and elderly adults —face daily challenges when crossing the street. Some move slowly, others too fast, and some cannot hear or see.

Adults, teens, and children with different levels of ability use pedestrian crossings throughout Seattle neighborhoods on a daily basis. As a driver I see them every day. They are waiting at a corner in front of a school, a park, at downtown business, or on residential streets. Some have enviable street crossing skills; others, not so much. Here are some tips about crossing street safely. Keep them in mind as you walk about in Seattle.

As a pedestrian you are more likely to see a vehicle approaching sooner than a driver might see you, so:

  • Stop at the curb so drivers will recognize you are intending to cross and will slow or may even stop for you.
  • Look both ways.
  • As you cross, look left, right, and left again for traffic.
  • Cross within the marked crossing area.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing to be sure that they see you, especially if the crossing is not marked.
  • Be predictable. Cross or enter streets where it is legal to do so.
  • Use extra caution when crossing at night and wear something that makes you visible to drivers.

If crossing outside the marked area, recognize that drivers do not expect to see you there. You will need to wait for natural, safe gaps in traffic to cross. You might have to wait up to sixty seconds or more. Save yourself some time; walk to the intersection and cross there. It will save you time and who knows, it may even save you a visit to the emergency room.

Be safe every time you cross a street!