Crash Test Dummies

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | 0 Comment(s)

The pedestrian getting off the PVTA bus didn't even glance at the road before walking. Perhaps this adult sized person, bundled against the wind, was having a flashback to his or her days in elementary school when the vigilant bus driver would unfurl the flashing STOP sign in order to assure safe passage. Unfortunately for everyone, this a public bus, sans signage.

Additionally, the bus was pulled over into a designated bus stop outlet, which allowed traffic to freely flow in both directions. So, when this passenger exited the bus and immediately began to hustle across the street, cars flowed in both directions. This pedestrian acted immune to the consistent smushability of the human body.

The saving grace for our capricious Frogger was that he or she dashed into traffic within the confines of a crosswalk. In Massachusetts, crosswalks are a Big Deal. Capital B, capital D. If you fail to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, no matter what happens, it will be considered completely your fault. Unless otherwise dictated by a traffic signal, crosswalks are considered the Holy Land of pedestrian safety. Inside their boarders, no harm shall be done. And so it was written.

And while, legally speaking, crosswalks may serve to protect pedestrians from vehicular manslaughter, those thick white lines are not, literally speaking, a forcefield.  Which is to say that if a speeding piece of rolling metal were to come in contact with the delicate musculature of a human spine, even while basking in the holy light of the hallowed crosswalk, you dead. Dee Eey Dee, Ded. Maybe you'll get an extra shiny halo in heaven, but not in the morgue.

It just so happened that on this particular day, with this particular careless pedestrian, that I was in the speeding piece of rolling metal headed for the soft fleshy surface just below his or her winter coat. And were it a squirrel or other small woodland creature, instead of a human being, the impending collision would later be refer to as said mammal, "committing suicide on my car." This commonly occurs when an animal unexpectedly runs onto a busy road leaving the motorist with no safe alternative (for them) but collision. With few options left at the driver's disposal, the actual disposal often comes when you scrape said creature off of the pavement.

Not today. Today, because I am vigilant about crosswalks, I saw this negligently suicidal crosswalker in time to slam on my brakes. I had just enough room to stop my front wheels a few feet before the first white line. This human was one lucky sonfoaSLAM.

Don't let it fool you, it's "totaled"
My car and head jolted forward before bucking to a stop once more. The pedestrian, seeing the calamity that resulted from his/her carefree crossing behavior retreated back to the original side of the road, mouth now agape. With a turn of my head I realized the source of the impact was the truck behind me. As I slowly steered my car over the to the side of the road, I went through a health checklist in my mind. My neck moved with full range of motion as the jolt was akin to a solid smack upside the head, something I'm very accustomed to, more than a violent herky-jerky concussion-threat of an impact. I was ok.

But dat truck be total'd way moor
When I exited my vehicle, I saw a fully uniformed solider speaking to the driver of the Toyota, who was still inside his vehicle. It was immediately clear that his car had suffered the lion's share of the damage in the collision. His air bag had deployed and his front end and engine were squished back towards the truck's cab. The solider was running through a more formal health check list on the middle-aged man still in the driver's seat.

That moment was, hands down, the scariest moment of this accident for me.  This instant when I realized that, fault and blame aside, this collision came dangerously close to an ending that couldn't be solved with insurance companies and tow trucks. In that moment, the truck's driver's safety was the only think in the world that mattered to me. And I was scared. Even though he hit me, I don't think I could ever forget my part in a tragedy. Being "not at fault" doesn't set my mind at ease when it comes to the loss of human life.

My eyes scanned the bystanders gathering on the sidewalk, looking for the pedestrian. He or she had absconded during the ensuing commotion, probably laden with the knowledge that he/she caused this entire kerfuffle. Not guilt-ridden enough, however, to stick around and take responsibility for his/her actions. My anger level was rising. The true person at fault was gone and the person living out the repercussions was still recovering in the driver's seat.

Paradise by the Dashboard Lights
A minute later, the solider helped the driver down out of his truck. He was wearing a blue tooth ear-piece and was already engaged in a loud conversation with someone.  It was clear, both from his body language and his volume that he was pissed.

I was relieved.

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