Tragedy occurred in Grand Rapids this past Saturday night.  Two people were killed in a hit-and-run accident downtown. While the details are still being released to the public, the one piece of information that we do know is the driver ran a stop sign and hit the couple – and then took off.

As rideshare drivers we risk getting into a vehicle-to-pedestrian incident every single day.  In our mid-sized town during bar hours, it is not only common but expected that groups of people will just walk into the middle of the street without a care in the world.  I’ve had to slam on my brakes many times to avoid hitting people, only to get a dirty look. The worst of them are the pedestrians who think its funny to jump off the curb towards your moving car. It’s not funny.

So, what can we do when drunk and/or careless pedestrians don’t look out for their own safety?  Always driving the appropriate speed, regardless of the designated speed limit, is the biggest factor in preventing a crash.  While the speed limit through our downtown corridors is often 25 mph, going over 15 mph can be dangerous at times. You also need to factor in the rain or snow and other weather conditions you are driving in.  Parking in designated loading or parking areas can help too. If you are parked in the middle of a lane, you could be hit from behind. This could also result in your vehicle hitting a pedestrian as it lurches forward from the impact.  Just don’t risk it.

Remaining alert is also a huge factor.  This includes not driving sleepy or distracted.  That can be a tough one at times. The Uber and Lyft apps ARE distracting.  So maybe you miss a request when you need to focus – it’s better to miss a ride request than to risk hitting a pedestrian.  Investing in a quality phone mount will help with this. Looking down at your phone is dangerous. It should be as close to eye level as possible.  A phone mount, and any other item utilized regularly for rideshare driving, is also a tax write-off since we are independent contractors.

Lastly, sometimes pedestrians just don’t see you or you don’t see them until the last minute.  It’s happened to all of us. Dark rainy nights and dark clothing don’t mix well. If you HAVE to get their attention, honk your horn.  Better to be “rude” than be deadly.

When it comes to pedestrian safety, rideshare drivers really do carry much of the burden.  The law generally will be on the side of the pedestrian and you don’t want the guilt or responsibility of hurting someone.  By being a responsible driver you can avoid many of the incidents that happen every single night across the world.