Columns/Opinion, Letters to the Editor

More vulnerable still have the right of way

Steve Knudsen, Morgantown
Regarding the editorial about pedestrians in Morgantown, the perceived increase in pedestrians being struck by cars is consistent with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data for 2016, which say pedestrian fatalities increased nationally to 5,987, the highest number since 1990, an increase by 9 percent over the previous year.
The main factor in all traffic fatalities is speed, but distractions of all sorts contribute.
Regarding rights of way, the law follows the principle of protecting the vulnerable. Pedestrians are most vulnerable, followed by bicycles, then cars, then trucks.
To clarify what right of way means, if traffic signals say “go” for two vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians, the less vulnerable must grant the right of way to the more vulnerable.
Of course, in the case of left turns, the car or bicycle must wait until the intersection is clear. Importantly, right of way does not imply that a pedestrian can walk against a red light or a “Don’t walk” signal and demand that all cars stop.
The most important rules of the road are to be courteous, take your time (don’t speed) and to pay attention.