Recently, while driving down a very slippery Kenmount Road, I narrowly avoided an accident. While approaching the mall, a car pulled out of a parking lot to head in my direction. The car which cut me off would certainly have been the victim of a fender bender had I not allowed so much space between myself and the next car, and had I not slammed on the breaks. And while I may have muttered under my breath, I am not one to yell out the window or even beep the horn in frustration. I am far too wordy for that. This incident, nonetheless, inspired me to share (in a civilized manner) another aspect of road rules: driver-pedestrian courtesy.
As a fifth-year student, I have made many trips to MUN. I walk to school the vast majority of the time – in good weather and bad. I also have experience driving in St. John's. I feel I can provide good advice to both walkers and drivers.
Advice for drivers
Pay attention to the crosswalks: if you are taking a new route or the same one every day, remember that there are always pedestrians around the university. Exercising a little caution and keeping your eyes on the road could help you avoid a very bad accident.
As well, you don't need to stop to let people jaywalk. While walking to school, I generally use the crosswalk. There is a spot, though, where taking the crosswalk involves a considerable backtrack. I stop on the sidewalk and wait for the road to clear but I do not expect cars to stop to let me cross. On my relatively slow street, I will not be waiting long in any case and stopping a line of traffic to let me cross makes me feel slightly in the way.
Be aware of world around you: if you walk around with your face in your phone, drivers cannot tell what you are thinking or what you are about to do. Pedestrians who look like they are sleepwalking make drivers uneasy and nervous. It is good for drivers to be cautious but they do not want to have to slam on the breaks and get rear-ended for someone who only seemed to be walking into traffic.
I recommend waving to the cars that stop. This is one point that you definitely get as a driver but you may not realize as someone who walks. Whenever someone stops to let you cross, give them a quick wave or eye contact and a nod. I realize that the car that stops is not doing the pedestrian a specific favour – he or she is just following traffic law. The quick "thanks" is polite, however, and drivers do appreciate it. It is just like holding a door to prevent it from hitting someone in the face – and the subsequent "thank you." It really is appreciated.
If you are strictly a car commuter or strictly a walker, I hope you have gained some insight from my opinion. If you are already familiar with the courtesies, I hope my musings have served as a reminder that you are always sharing the road with your colleagues, classmates and the rest of the community.
Walk and drive safely.
Megan Denty is a fifth-year commerce student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.