Look Both Ways: An Epidemic?

This may be the crankiest old man rant I’ll ever write.  I searched the web for evidence of a trend I’m seeing, and very little comes up.  Maybe it’s just in Norman.  As school begins and kids are getting up out of their summertime video game comas, I’m thinking about a serious problem I’m seeing on our streets.  What I’m seeing is both disturbing and irritating.  People, usually teens, are jaywalking without even looking.  And so slowly that it’s like they’re playing a game in which the person who crosses the slowest and looks up the least wins.  A chicken game of sorts.

This article indicates that pedestrian deaths are on the rise and that 24% of the deaths were jaywalkers.

Yeah, I admit it.  I jaywalk once in awhile, but I always look both ways and I never stop traffic.  Isn’t this what we all learned as little children?  You ALWAYS look both ways and WAIT for the cars to drive by?  But that’s not what I’m seeing these days.


In the wiki page entitled Jaywalking, the origins include the following:

The word jaywalk is a compound word derived from the word jay, an inexperienced person, and walk.

In towns in the American Midwest in the early 20th century, “jay” was a synonym for “rube”, a pejorative term for a rural resident, assumed by many urbanites to be stupid, slightly unintelligent, or perhaps simply naïve. Such a person did not know to keep out of the way of other pedestrians and speeding automobiles

So are these people rubes?  Are they too stupid to know what they are doing is wrong?  No, I think the truth is far more disturbing.

I’ll be driving down the road, any road, in my neighborhood let’s say, and two kids will walk right in front of my car just sauntering along and never looking up once.  They trust that I will come to a complete stop in the middle of the road so that I won’t hit them.  Sometimes  I honk, but then they either still don’t look up or they look up at me as if I were a total tool.

So what’s happening here?   I can only speculate.  I’ve never interviewed anyone on the subject.  In The Jaywalking Epidemic and Why it Needs to Stop, the author Montel writes the following:

There has been a growing trend among college kids who have decided that jaywalking is totally the way to go. Why wait at a crosswalk for some half-broken automated system to grant you access to walk across the street, a mere fifty feet from one side to the next?

She also cites drunkenness and a growing trend of deaths related to jaywalking and college kids.  These kids are really pushing their luck  considering the other epidemic:  texting while driving.

What I detest most of all is the attitude that it’s their right to walk in front of my car.  I don’t think they’re “rubes” at all.  They are entitled, inconsiderate brats.  They take no notice at all that I’ll have to stop for them even if there are five cars behind me trying to make the light.  When I think of two guys casually talking without a single glance or giddyup, perhaps looking at their phone, it triggers something very ugly in my brain.   You know what I mean by giddyup?  That’s when you jaywalk and at least have the courtesy to take one step of a run and make a gesture that indicates that you are sorry for causing an inconvenience.  I can forgive that.

I fantasize about teaching them a lesson.  I don’t want to kill anyone, I just want to see them run.  Maybe I’ll slam the breaks on just close enough not to hit someone then I’ll edge them off the road with my horn full on.  But, yeah, then I’d be THAT guy:  the cranky old many writing a blog about it.

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