Q How could you? You feature a full column on pedestrian safety (Roadshow, Dec. 8) and ignore the common mistakes drivers make that injure and kill people every day. It's a two-way street, you know, and drivers bear a huge responsibility since they are piloting machines that can kill with a split second of inattention.

Janet Lafleur

Mountain View

A I am surprised at the number of drivers who blame pedestrians for the surge in pedestrian incidents. What suggestions do you have?

Q Why didn't you include tips like these for drivers?

A Belmont community service officer crosses Ralston Avenue during a pedestrian decoy operation. (Bay Area News Group)
A Belmont community service officer crosses Ralston Avenue during a pedestrian decoy operation. (Bay Area News Group)

When making left or right turns at intersections or driveways, carefully check street corners, crosswalks and sidewalks for people walking. And when approaching a crosswalk that does not have a signal, carefully check not only the crosswalk, but edges of the road for people about to cross.

Janet Lafleur

A And ...

Q Even if there's not a painted crosswalk, all intersections are legal crossings for people walking unless explicitly prohibited. Look for people at every corner.

Janet Lafleur

A This is an important tip. Even at an intersection without a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way unless crossing the street is prohibited.

Q Don't enter an intersection on a red light. People on the other side of the light may be stepping into the crosswalk when they get the WALK signal.

Janet Lafleur

A Amen.

Q Realize that some countdown signals can vary. So don't hit the gas on a green light without looking to see if someone is still crossing.

Janet Lafleur

A Countdown signals remove the guesswork out of crossing a street by ticking down the seconds a walker has to make it to the other side. Many love these devices, but drivers cannot count on them to gauge when a light is going to turn yellow. Times don't always match up with traffic lights at all intersections.

In San Francisco, there are a lot of streets where left turns are few or banned, like 19th Avenue, Market Street and The Embarcadero. This makes it easy to match the countdown timer for pedestrians with the amount of time before a traffic light goes from green to yellow.

But in much of the Bay Area, left turns are not usually prohibited. And the green light can vary at newer "smart" signals that respond to traffic. You may have a green light when traffic is light for 15 seconds but 30 seconds or longer when traffic is heavy.

But countdown timers are helpful and can lead to safer roads. San Francisco reported a 25 percent drop in pedestrian crashes in the first three years after countdown signals were installed at 579 intersections, while vehicle crashes fell even more -- 34 percent.

Anything else, Janet?

Q Most importantly: SLOW DOWN. The faster you're driving the less time you have to react to a bonehead move, either theirs or yours. When you drive over the speed limit or whip around corners you put everyone at risk.

Please follow up with an article on tips for drivers like these. I'm horrified every time I read about people dying in our streets. It's preventable. and we're all part of the solution.

Janet Lafleur

A Yes, we are.

 

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com, at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or 408-920-5335.