As I was driving down Harbor Boulevard on Monday, I noticed a shocking amount of people running across the road at will. I haven't seen so many people act so careless since college. I felt like I was watching a game of "Frogger" play out in real-time. I also feel like I reference "Frogger" a lot when it comes to explaining traffic issues in Destin. Oh well, back to the story.
Crosswalks. They aren't there just to provide iconic backdrops for pictures. The city didn't happen to have some extra paint and decide to brighten up the road. They serve a purpose and that purpose is to provide a legal and safe place for pedestrians to cross the road without being hit by a moving vehicle.
When I was in college, I remember my friends joking about getting hit by a car on campus so they would get free tuition. In college, it was every man for himself when it came to crossing the roads. When you were late to class, you just closed your eyes and prayed that your guardian angels had AAA.
Destin has the same vibe. People walk across the road with no regard for their safety. They seem to think they have the right-of-way anywhere on the road and if you honk your horn at them, then somehow you're the jerk even though they're walking slower than molasses across a 45 mph zone.
I've often heard people joke about running out in traffic so they can pay their bills or pay for their next vacation. Not only is that a demented joke, but it also is completely and utterly wrong.
You see, there's this thing called the "law of negligence" and it determines who is at fault for an accident involving a pedestrian and a vehicle. For those of you who didn't pay attention in Driver's Ed, negligence is defined as careless or unlawful behavior. Some examples of negligence on a pedestrian's part include jaywalking, walking on the crosswalk when it doesn't say to walk and walking on the road instead of the sidewalk.
Of course, some parts of the law vary from state to state and there are instances that both the driver and pedestrian could be at fault, but my point is that pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way that so many of them think they do.
So if you're one of those people who thinks you're free to walk wherever you please without consequences, just remember that the road is not your domain unless the "walk" signal is flashing above a crosswalk. That's just the way it is.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-4353.