• Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Scott Sanderson
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Safety
It is early morning and I am walking from my car into bldg. 100 at McChord Field.  The crosswalk is visible with plenty of lights around.  As I approach the crosswalk  I notice there are quite a few cars going by.  I wait for a minute and I see an opportunity to cross.  As I am crossing, a car speeds toward me and I have to quickly move out of the crosswalk to avoid being hit. 

This happens all too often at intersections and crosswalks, not only on base, but throughout the nation.

According to Washington State law RCW 46.61.235, the driver of a vehicle must stop and remain stopped to allow pedestrians or bicyclists to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk. 
So what does this mean?  When a pedestrian is at or in the crosswalk the operator of the vehicle must stop.  Fines can be up to $250. A vehicular assault is $5,000.

According to an online article from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic accident in the United States.  Another 76,000 pedestrians were injured.  These are preventable deaths and injuries.

One area of concern on McChord Field is F Street, between bldg. 100 and the post office.  The crosswalk area is poorly lit and can be difficult to see. 

The hill makes this area even more dangerous because the driver can't see the crosswalk until they are almost on top of it.  Operators driving up the hill need to reduce their speed so they have enough time to react. 

While there are numerous contributing factors, distracted drivers can often be found at the root of this problem. 

On any given day, you can stand outside bldg. 100 and see drivers using a cell phone while operating a vehicle.  They do this despite cell phone use while driving is prohibited by DoD Instruction 6055.04 subpart (d) paragraph 2. 

If the need to communicate is that important, pull over in a safe location or just simply wait until you have reached your destination.  No trivial phone use is worth someone's life.  Not only cell phone use, but any distraction is easily avoidable by pulling over to a safe location.

Drivers are not the only ones at fault. Pedestrians must also abide by the laws of the road. 

Washington state law says: No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety move into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

Be aware of your surroundings when near a roadway and make yourself visible when you do cross the road. 

When I was younger my parents would tell me as I approach a crosswalk look both ways and make sure if a car is coming so the driver can see you.  I see people all the time crossing the road with no regard to what oncoming traffic is doing.  

Pay attention to your surroundings, whether you are an operator of a vehicle or a pedestrian.  A life, even yours, might depend on it.