You Fault!
Off the Wall - July 10, 2009

Now that school has been- out, there are a lot more walkers crossing streets than in the last several months. That means you, the driver, have to take extra special care in making sure you not only observe all the laws for the safety sake of the pedestrian, but keep a watchful eye out when strollers of all ages cross the area roads.

Many of you Latrobeans know there are some bad intersections where people blatantly ignore the rules of the road. Just a few are at Lincoln and Fairmont, Lincoln and James and Ligonier and Lehmer Streets. Let’s take the latter where two streets intersect with Ligonier Street just north of Latrobe Elementary School. I was walking home one day from the Latrobe Bulletin office when upon crossing, a woman driver in a square, red, box-looking type vehicle sped up the steep grade, looked right to see if any other vehicles were approaching, slowed and then turned right and knocked into me. I ended up on her hood. She stopped momentarily and then took off.

People asked me why I didn’t get her license plate number. Sorry, but I’m one of those folks who don’t think about that type of thing rolling off the front end of a car onto the street. I just thanked God I wasn’t hurt, just slightly shaken.

Then a few months ago, I was crossing at that same intersection on the other side of the street, just south of the United Church of Christ Church. Here again, a woman motored down the street in a two-tone brown, boxed shaped vehicle, looked up Ligonier St., and missed me by inches as I was three feet into the intersection crossing the road. She never stopped at the stop sign. Out of the corner of my left eye, I sensed some unusual movement. Something told me to stop and back up quickly. I complied. Maybe it was un-Christian-like, but I yelled, “Hey!!! Hey!!!” I guess I could have said a lot more, but I didn’t feel so led. She never stopped at the stop sign, slowed down or even stopped after my screams. She just went on her way oblivious to what just occurred. I felt compelled to slam my attaché case into her side door, but didn’t. The Holy Spirit told me to cool it, and I willfully backed off. I stood there for a few minutes, and then got my composure and went on my way. A motorist who witnessed the whole thing stopped his vehicle and watched. I believe he wanted to make sure I was all right.

You may ask, why am I still talking about these incidents. Because all pedestrians ought to take note that drivers in Latrobe, and I’m sure, other towns are so tied up on their cell phones these days, maybe having a disagreement with a friend over the purchase of a pizza, that they aren’t paying attention. Your welfare may be at risk.

Now, I have to add, many people will walk across the street from LES to their parked cars, jaywalking instead of crossing at the designated crosswalks. Whose fault do you think it is if these people get hit, the motorist or the jaywalker? You tell me. Since jaywalking is illegal, I think you already know the answer.

When our children were younger, my wife was returning from grocery shopping with our son in the car when someone driving south on Lincoln Ave. plowed right into her car as she was attempting to drive across the railroad tracks. Praise God, neither was hurt.

We have a term in Latrobe called “The Latrobe Stop.” I have never heard of Derry, Ligonier, or Blairsville stops. People in Latrobe seem to feel it is their right to avoid stopping at stop signs beyond all costs. That stop sign does not apply to local residents, maybe only those from out of town. Guess what? Those signs were erected for everyone for a reason. That means, if you are taking part in the privilege of operating a motor vehicle, you must comply as the sign indicates. If not, it’s your fault if you collide with another car, truck, person, such as yours truly, or Lord forbid, a young child, crossing the road legally at a crosswalk. If you have to use that cell phone, pull over and stop. You can better concentrate on your conversation and won’t put lives at risk.

Article by:
Paul J. Volkmann
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