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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : letters May 24, 2016

1/14/2014 12:33:00 PM
Letter: Safety is a two-way street


There is an alarming trend in I've noticed in Cottonwood, pedestrians walking on the wrong side of the road. Just the other day I had to swerve my car into the opposing lane as 4 young people were walking abreast with their backs to me in my lane as I came around a blind corner. By the grace of god there was no oncoming traffic. I don't believe it was an act of defiance, just ignorance. It seems no one practices or teaches safe walking etiquette anymore. Sadly the majority of people I see walking even in my own neighborhood, are on the wrong side of the road, that is, with their backs to oncoming traffic, rather than facing traffic. Many are actually young families pushing strollers!

Why is it so important to walk on the left side, facing traffic? Well for one, if you are on the left you can see the cars coming at you, and they can see you, face to face. It's easy to ignore the back of someone's head, much harder to ignore someone looking you in the eyes. Each of you can see if the other is paying attention. If you are walking with your back to traffic, you are placing your safety entirely in the hands of the driver of the vehicle. Now of course we all know every driver on the road is always 100% focused on driving in a safe manner, no one is ever distracted by their screaming children in the back seat, or talking on the phone or texting or anything...yeah right. Now I know some of you knuckleheads will say "it's the drivers responsibility not to hit me". Technically that's true, but your refusal to accept any responsibility for your own safety will be little comfort to your loved ones when you're lying in the hospital with a fractured pelvis, broken spine, traumatic brain injury or, in the morgue. Safety is a two-way street (sorry couldn't resist).

Look, if you want to participate in some good old fashioned 'natural selection', (you know, when nature took out the stupid people), I suppose that's your business. But if you have children or pets and you choose to walk on the wrong side of the road, you're being downright negligent. You owe it to your children to teach them proper walking safety. If you are facing traffic, you at least have a fighting chance to get out of the way of a distracted driver. If you're back is to the driver, you're almost asking for it, especially when you don't have the courtesy to move to the shoulder a little. Even in a slow speed encounter between car and pedestrian, the pedestrian always loses. Don't be a loser, defy natural selection and Please, walk on the left, facing traffic.

Cody DeLong


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: @Flow of traffic Direction

Per Az Revised Statutes:
B. If sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder FACING traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.
You are welcome.............

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: David in Cottonwood

@ 'Be Realistic'
You want realistic? Ok, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pedestrian fatalities in Arizona each year, is that real enough for you? Is it unrealistic to ask people to take their own safety a little more seriously? Is the attitude of, 'well if we had nothing but responsible drivers we’ll all be much safer' supposed to be a realistic answer to inattentive or willfully negligent pedestrians? Are you seriously attempting to make the case that it's simply 'rhetoric' to initiate a discussion concerning situational awareness and responsible behavior that may have the effect of saving a few lives?


Arizona's Pedestrian laws are covered by Title 28 / Chapter 3 / Article 10 / Sections 28-791 through 28-797 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. It's not 'rhetoric' to expect people to obey the law, especially in the interests of their own safety.

Pedestrians only have the right of way when walking in marked, and with exceptions, unmarked crosswalks. It's illegal, as well as irresponsible, for pedestrians to impede the natural flow of traffic, and pedestrians walking on roadways where there are no sidewalks are directed by statute to "….walk when practicable only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction."

These statutes are pretty simple, as well as logical, and hardly an onerous regulation people. It boggles the mind that someone would actually argue about what Mr. Delong wrote.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: jackie nash

So,I have a question.being new to the area I was confused coming back from Jerome to find a guy skateboarding down the mountain! Is that legal here?

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Article comment by: Be Realistic

"Safe drivers" will see the pedestrians, we all need to drive more cautiously/slowly driving in questionable areas. Obviously, you are not from an area that is habitat to Elk, Deer, or even Javelina they are major threats to motorists during this time of year. AZ state laws require bicyclists to adhere to the laws of the "motorized vehicle". , and, to ride on the proper side of the road, determined by the DOT. Please stop your rhetoric, if for some reason, you can't seem to see other citizens before hitting them with your car, or control your vehicle for any reason, please stay off our roads we'll all be much safer.

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Article comment by: Cody DeLong

That is wrong, it is even more important to walk facing traffic when there is no sidewalk. You are literally in the street, with the cars! Be safe, walk on the left. Your close call is a good example, think if you had been facing the other way, yikes. Also, you can't always hear cars coming, we have nearly silent electric cars now, the wind blows, people are talking etc. Why only use your ears when you have eyes too.

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Article comment by: Flow Of Traffic Direction

Perhaps wrong, but I thought if there were no sidewalks, you were supposed to walk with the flow of traffic, just like bicycling. Yes, that makes your back to cars, so you listen and turn your head every one in awhile.

I walk alot in an area with no sidewalks. The only close call I ever had was walking against the flow of traffic. The driver nearly wiped me out with his passenger side. Don't know what he was doing, but not safely driving.

I think it is up to drivers to always be alert to all slower road traffic, pedestrians, horses, bikes etc. In town, you shouldn't be moving fast anyway.

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