When I was a runner, I learned a valuable lesson about blind spots.
I was about 45 when I started and ran about 15 miles a week for around 10 years before the pounding caught up with me and I had to stop. Still, the biggest lesson learned wasn’t about fitness.
Jogging along a city street back then, I approached an intersection with a traffic light. My signal was green so I started across the street in the crosswalk as you would expect a pedestrian to do.
At the light, waiting to turn right, a driver sat idling, but looking at him, something about it nagged at me. As I rounded the front of his car, literally at about the center of his hood, he started rolling forward. Startled, I looked toward the driver’s seat and he was looking left to see if anyone was coming. I know his thought was, “Right turn on red is OK if no one’s coming.” I jumped, slapped one palm on the car, scared the bejeezus out of the driver and bounced out into the intersection, praying no one was coming.
We all know about blind spots in cars, those areas where a structural post that helps protect you as a driver, can impede your safety if you’re not aware and take action to look past, through, or around the obstruction.
Sadly, we have those same blind spots in our lives.
It was reported across our industry last week that a New York University and the Université Grenoble Alpes in France studied of Facebook activity from August 202 to January 2021 and that misinformation of questionable “news publishers” was six times more likely to be liked, shared, etc., than that of more reputable news sources.
Facebook’s response was that the analysis was only a measurement of how people engaged (clicked/liked/shared) with the content versus those who actually saw it and did nothing.
I’m not sure that bolsters their case.
I know I’ve railed on this before, but why are we so likely to buy into something that complies with our beliefs, regardless of whether it takes your opinion and amplifies it to an absurd level. Sure, I believe exercise is good for you. But if someone were to post the results of a “study” that says anyone who doesn’t start taking a daily energetic walk beginning tomorrow, will keel over before their next birthday, I’d tend not to believe it.
Back to the automobile metaphor. You have to look past, through and around those blind spots.
Before that incident when I was running, I hadn’t realized how often I did the same thing. Roll up to a light, angle slightly right, look left and, if there was no oncoming traffic, take my foot off the brake and start rolling. It’s a dangerous practice I work on eliminating, but a bad habit you can easily fall back into.
I’ve maintained for years that, generally, motorcycle riders are safer operators of an automobile. If you ride (and I used to) your head’s constantly on a swivel because a lot of drivers don’t “see” motorcycles. That blind spot has caused a lot of biker deaths.
As a runner, once I became aware of the blind spot, my eyes were always on the driver as I was approaching an intersection. If he or she didn’t make eye contact with me, I knew there was a danger and that scenario I described above probably happened to me at least once or twice a year. Each time, once the driver saw me, they were mortified, I believe, at what they’d almost done.
Mom and dad always said “look both ways.” That advice has value far beyond just crossing the street.
David Stringer is the publisher of The Lawton Constitution, a past-president of the Oklahoma Press Association and a media professional for over 40 years, more than half of that in Oklahoma. He can be reached at email@example.com.