Monday, June 27, 2011

They see you! Run!

It should come as no big surprise that the local papers here in Utah don’t sport banner headlines about this weekend’s legalization of same sex marriage in New York. It happened, after all, in New York not Utah. However, the weeks leading up to, and months leading away from, the California Prop 8 vote garnered several well-placed news stories. Perhaps there is something more important about California to Utah? In the run-up to the 2008 elections millions of dollars in morality export money was sent to California from Utah. We here knew something about Morality that Californians needed to hear. Don’t think Utah was only willing to give money either; many people from Utah would have come over in person to help Californians vote if they could have.

I bet the family of Lidia Tovar age 36 wished she had. I never knew Linda, but I wish she had gone to California for the November 2008 elections, and then stayed a few more weeks. Linda was crossing South Temple in a properly-marked crosswalk near 300 East on December 29th 2008 when she was hit by a car that was attempting a left turn. The massive brain injury she suffered as a result of the collision ended her life a short time later. The driver said she ”didn’t see” Linda in the crosswalk, and was not issued a citation.

That sort of interaction is viewed differently in California. Here is an extended quote from the “California Driver Handbook Laws and Rules of the Road”:

Pedestrian deaths occur in 17 percent of all traffic fatalities. Drive cautiously when pedestrians are near because they may suddenly cross your path.
• Respect the right-of-way of pedestrians. Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at corners with or without traffic lights, whether or not the crosswalks are marked by painted lines.
• Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, he or she is ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian.
• Allow older pedestrians, disabled pedestrians and pedestrians with young children sufficient time to cross the street.


A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic. Most intersections have a pedestrian crosswalk whether or not lines are painted on the street. Most crosswalks are located at corners, but they can also be located in the middle of the block. Before turning a corner, watch for people about to cross the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks.
Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings. Most often, crosswalks in residential areas are not marked.
Some crosswalks have flashing lights to warn you that pedestrians may be crossing. Look for pedestrians and be prepared to stop, whether or not the lights are flashing.
The Utah code has information about crosswalks and pedestrians. Unless it is a school crosswalk the most important piece of information is:

41-6a-1001-1) A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of a traffic-control device specifically applicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a peace officer.
There is common sense advice for pedestrians in Utah also: “Get out of the road FAST if you see cars”.

According to California spokesperson Carrie Prejean the reason why same-sex marriage must not be made legal is because of families. Families == children. The kids are going to be hurt or something somewhere if people get married and then have the same type of sex....

The fact that some middle-aged men might be seen nodding in agreement with Ms. Prejean does not necessarily mean they agree with her; it does not even mean they are listening to what she is saying.

New York may have slipped from Utah’s moral hold, but California may still be receptive. With prop 8 still in judicial limbo perhaps we can get started educating California on other moral imperatives. Does anyone in California know how many extra points one gets for a woman in a wheelchair IF she has a Pomeranian on her lap?

This weekend two young girls were crossing 5400 south near 3400 (don’t get too strung out about the extra 0s, that’s just the way streets are numbered in Salt Lake City) in Salt Lake City. When the light turned green for the eastbound minivan the 11 year old girl had not finished crossing the crosswalk. She will never celebrate her 12th birthday. Taylorsville police sergeant Tracy Wyant described the accident this way:

"The light had just switched for eastbound traffic and it appears as though they got across too late" -- Tracy Wyant

Wyant went on to point out that the driver of the minivan had the green light, and likely will not be cited.

It is interesting to note that New York’s crosswalk laws are more similar to Utah’s than to California’s. Perhaps Utah has been exporting a different type of morality to New York?

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