what do drivers think?

As I was walking this afternoon, crossing 19th Street at S Street, with the light, a woman very nearly ran me over. She was looking only at opposing traffic, and decided she could make the left turn if she accelerated. She was not looking at the crosswalk or at me. In fact, I’m pretty sure she would not have seen me until I was on her hood. She only noticed me because I screamed at her as I jumped back to avoid being hit.

This is a story that anyone who walks could repeat, it is not in the least unique. I have probably 150 almost identical instances since moving to Sacramento 11 years ago. And it is not unique to Sacramento. Traffic violence is everywhere, almost all the time.

But as I continued my walk, I wondered what goes through the minds of drivers who almost kill people. In many cases, they blame it on the person walking, for having the effrontery of being on the street in front of their car. I know this because they often start the screaming, directing invective at me.

But what about the others? Do they drive more carefully, with more attention to surroundings? Do they refrain from accelerating into dangerous situations? Do they slow the fuck down? Probably, for a few days. I imagine some of these drivers are actually quite shaken by the realization that they almost killed someone.

I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t last, though. They must slide back into their old reckless ways. If this were not so, there would be much more careful drivers on the road, and much less traffic violence. But there isn’t.

I suspect almost every driver on the road has come close to killing someone before. Some drivers, many times. Some drivers have killed people walking. After all, killing someone with your vehicle is seen by law enforcement and courts as a whoopsie, unless you are very drunk.

Note that I define traffic violence as any driver behavior that intimidates people from walking or bicycling. The driver doesn’t have to actually kill or injure to have the (desired?) effect.

Yet another criminal

I was assaulted by a vehicle driver today on J Street. Assault includes intent to harm with a deadly weapon, which is a motor vehicle, and does not require actual battery. Having learned my lesson from the last incident, I got the license number and vehicle description right. I did not get enough of a driver ID to press charges, but it will at least go on their record.

The details:
3VFM067 CA
White Toyota 4-runner, not new
White male young
J St eastbound at 10th St
Occurred about 6:25pm, 2012-05-29

A white Toyota 4-runner driven by a young white male attempted to intimidate me off the roadway by using his vehicle as a weapon. The driver gunned their engine at me for a block, and then passed within 3 inches, I felt the mirror touch my arm. I was traveling in the rightmost lane at about 20 mph. There is no bike lane in this area, and the lane is not wide enough to share. The other two eastbound travel lanes were open, at a time of light traffic, so the driver could have easily passed but chose to intimidate me. I caught up to the person and asked why he would use his vehicle to kill another person, and he flipped me off. Another vehicle immediately following did the same thing, passing too closely, so I suspect the two drivers were traveling together.

Incident 12-146316
Responding officer R. Cabrera, Sacramento Police Department