Five College Area pedestrians are reckless

By Ian Hagerty

Evan Sahagian/Collegian File Photo
Evan Sahagian/Collegian File Photo

Have you ever been driving around a campus in the Five College Area, even traveling well under the speed limit, only to have a pedestrian blindly strut in front of your car? Is it sometimes difficult to stop in time? You’ve all seen this pedestrian before. I use the term strut, because these specific pedestrians walk into the road like they own the asphalt itself, along with any laws of physics that decide exactly how long it takes for a car to come to a complete stop.

Don’t get me wrong now – I know that Massachusetts state law declares the pedestrians as always having right of way. I’m not here to argue that fact. I’m here to argue the mindset of the pedestrian.

Confidence of the law, confidence of personal safety and confidence of always being safe – these are some of the sureties that many pedestrians in this area seem to possess. My sentiments go out to this mindset, as I have always been envious of anyone that can live life in this vast and scary world without much anxiety or care.

However, I think it is absolutely essential that people remain aware of their surroundings. People walk right into the middle of the street, directly in front of traffic, often without a single glance from side to side, because of this mentality. It is almost as if pedestrians believe that because they have the law on their side and because they are correct, they have a protective bubble around them, preventing any sort of harm or danger from coming upon a single hair on their heads.

I believe that this way of thinking is incredibly dangerous. The fact is, regardless of who is right and who is wrong, who will go to jail and who will not, when a car traveling at nearly any rate of speed hits you, there is a reasonable chance you can be seriously injured or killed. A lawsuit or court case won’t do you much good after the fact. Preventing the collision in the first place is your best bet.

This is not to say that none of the blame lies in the hands of irresponsible drivers on the roads. With so many young students in this area, many of whom partake in the occasional social event, usually involving drinking, it is not a surprise when there are some DUIs and accidents in the area. It is always wise to assume that there are going to be some people out on the roads, blatantly breaking the law, endangering people every day. This is a cynical view, but I think a wise one. To me, this seems like even more reason to become an aware pedestrian.

Just less than two weeks ago, all students at University of Massachusetts received an email from UMass Chief of Police John Horvath, discussing two motor vehicle/pedestrian incidents on Feb. 3 and 4. Personally, not only do I look from side to side when I cross the street, but I also try to stay alert to my surroundings in general. I’m not saying anyone is perfect, but it can never hurt to keep your ears open and your eyes focused. Without a doubt, I know that this mentality has saved my life on several occasions.

It is very fortunate and wonderful that we live in an area where pedestrians can walk around freely, not constantly worried about crossing roads and waiting for their turn to keep moving. Pedestrians in the Five College Area have great power and use that power to make a community stronger on foot than most other communities. To reference on the side of a comic book nerd, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Becoming over-zealous with power, even if it is just the right of way between cars and people, is an unwise decision that we shouldn’t take lightly. Even if no harm is to come to an all-confident pedestrian during their time in Western Massachusetts, we should remember that the world is not consistent. People are not consistent. Cars are not consistent. Even if a driver has the full intention to stop, it just may not be possible.

It is important that students, as well as all pedestrians in this area, learn some personal responsibility before possibly moving on and blindly entering the streets. We need to prepare for the worst, not the best. Take those Beats by Dre off of your ears and listen to the music! After all, can you even imagine stopping a cross-town cab in Manhattan?

Ian Hagerty is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]