Look both ways, maybe three

By Ben Moriarty

My father says I simply have bad karma when it comes to cars. During one winter I raced to make it up a snowy hill but missed the turn up the hill, hit a sand bump and flew across a frozen ravine. I hit a telephone pole one misty evening, totaling my car. I, despite obsessively checking my lights, seem to have a battery which always drains. When going home one day from work, the front axle snapped and my tire rolled away. It is hard to drive with only three tires and one corner of the car is on the pavement.

And then, when I was in first grade, I was hit by a car. I was in the center of my town, playing and watching my friend’s Little League games, when I ran across the road to get a foul ball, and upon running back, I was nailed like road kill.

However I wasn’t killed. I feel like I have good karma with cars.

 At the very least, and for a reason I can’t come up with, I am alive for some reason.

There are about 5,000 pedestrians who die by being hit by cars every year. The figure of those who are hit and live is obviously higher. A couple years ago, there was a big hoopla about hybrid cars. Apparently, the cars were too quiet and blind people couldn’t hear them, causing an increase in the number of accidents and potential accidents. If there was a worst-way-to-die contest, being driven over could surely win – especially being driven over by some hippie in a nerdy hippie car. And that is no way to die no matter who you are.

That is why, on Massachusetts Avenue, there are rumble strips. And no, they aren’t for deaf people, the strips are there because last year there was a bunch of kids who got hit by cars. And also, they want to provide me an obstacle to evade while I’m driving down Mass. Ave, so instead of paying attention to not hitting pedestrians, I can try to only have one side of my car rumble on the rumble strip. So believe me, I only get one side to rumble every time, and I have yet to hit someone.

But recently, there was a student who was hit by a car. There have been a handful of these incidents in the past year, and we have to wonder what can be done. Something can be done, but nothing should be done.

When I was in first grade, I realized, as I was tumbling through the air after being hit by the bumper of a car, I probably should have looked both ways. My father’s cousin told me to look three ways when you cross the street: to the right, to the left, and up, because a plane crashes every day. Fifteen years later, I still know I should probably both look ways.

You can say that it is the driver’s fault, and I imagine sometimes it is, but knowing how reckless I still am when crossing the street, there shouldn’t be much blame except on the person. Looking both ways before you cross the street is something every single child knows, and every young adult at an institution of higher learning should know as well.

One of the first things my father said to me when he was teaching me to drive is to never trust blinkers. To make sure you know the person is actually turning before you pull out, so you don’t get T-boned. That knowledge isn’t specific to just that instance. You shouldn’t trust lights, you shouldn’t trust paint on the ground and you shouldn’t trust the law and how you have the right of way.

You should, unless you are blind, trust what you see, and that’s whether a car is near you or not. If you’re blind, I still have no advice except learn to play the piano well enough to hire a butler. That’s what blind people seem to do. But if you see a car coming, don’t walk, and if you need to, run. If you don’t see one, then walk. And when you walk, actually inspect what is around you, because you never know when a car is going to blow a red light.

If you can’t do that, which simply requires taking necessary and intelligent precautions, you kind of deserve getting hit by a car – and that’s coming from someone who has been hit by one.

Ben Moriarty is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]