With experience as a driver and a pedestrian, I have observed the pedestrian and driver culture on our campus. For this issue, I wish to share a few observations and tips for staying safe at CBNU.
On a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, I was struck by the courtesy of drivers. If I were waiting or approaching a crosswalk, the driver of a car coming toward me would stop and wait for me to start walking, cross the street completely, and continue walking on the other side before they started moving. Never did I feel that I had to stop and wait for cars to go by before I could cross safely. The drivers were very courteous and considerate. They were following driving rules relating to pedestrians. It was a stark difference compared to Korea and struck me, because as a pedestrian in Korea, that would almost never happen. Pedestrians are rarely given the right of way. This is exactly why we should all be very alert when we cross the street.
It is common knowledge, I would say, that many Korean automobile and bus drivers are sometimes reckless and careless when it comes to driving. While driving, I have seen cars dash across the street in front of me, although it was a green light for me to go straight. This means they were likely speeding and decided not to stop for their red light. It also means such carelessness could have caused an accident.
Aside from drivers and pedestrians, bicycle riders must also be cautious as they cross the street. Under Korean law, bicyclists are supposed to dismount their bikes and walk across the street with their bikes. However, this rule is seldom followed. Have you seen a person on their bike stop, dismount, cross the street and get back on their bikes again? Driving around the CBNU area, I have seen bikers quickly ride on their bikes across the crosswalk when it’s green. In such situations some drivers, who fail to see them in time, have to break suddenly to avoid a collision.
Motorcyclists are also a hazard on our roads because they zip in and out of lanes and across intersections in very dangerous circumstances (through red lights, against oncoming traffic, etc.) The explanation I received when I asked a Korean person why motorcyclists ride so fast and so dangerously, was that these motorcyclists are under pressure to deliver food within a certain number of minutes. Think about that for a minute!
If drivers and cyclists were obedient in following traffic laws, the roads in Korea would be much safer than they actually are. Below are a few tips I came up with for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. I hope they will prove to be helpful reminders as you walk or drive around campus and in the vicinity of the university.
-Read and follow road signs, especially speed limits
-Follow all traffic laws to avoid confusion with other drivers and pedestrians
-Stay in your lane and signal when crossing lanes
-Don’t drive and text
-Stop for pedestrians at the crosswalk, before they start crossing, and wait until they have finished and are on the other side
-Don’t walk and text at the same time
-When crossing, remove your earbuds so you can hear a car approaching, if you don’t see it
-Watch out for your friends when you are talking, walking, and crossing; not paying attention can potentially lead to serious injuries from accidents
-Never assume it is safe to cross; be alert when you cross the street, first look left, then right, and left again
-Cross streets using the crosswalks; you are putting yourself in danger when you walk outside the crosswalk
-Walk on the sidewalks, not on the street; especially if you are out at night, walk on the sidewalk going against traffic, you don’t know if drivers see you;
-Wear light clothing if you are walking outside in heavy rain or at night
-Dismount your bike before crossing the street;
-Look both ways before crossing;
-Don’t listen to music while biking, it distracts and prevents you from focusing on what’s going on around you
-Do not put your life or that of others in danger by riding against the red light;
-Be cautious when weaving in and out of traffic -- better to arrive later and safely, than not at all
All lives are valuable. Most accidents can be prevented by following common safety rules.