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Making Eye Contact with Drivers: Vehicle Size and Other Perils

It’s often recommended to people who walk, bike, skate, or scoot that one way to improve their safety, especially at intersections, is to make eye contact with drivers.

In fact, when the City of Monterey made use of some 2021 California Office of Traffic Safety pedestrian and bicycle safety grant funds, they installed “SEE AND BE SEEN” cabinet wraps at three intersections in Monterey. Note the specific messaging on those wraps—in particular, the wrap at Pacific and El Dorado.

  • Pacific and Franklin, “Eyes UP, Phone DOWN!”
  • Casa Verde and Del Monte, “GO with the FLOW! Ride with traffic.”
  • Pacific and El Dorado (pictured below), “Make EYE Contact!”

Unfortunately, making eye contact with a driver is often impossible. Reasons include that the driver is looking elsewhere, such as looking at their cell phone; or their vehicle has dark tinted glass that prevents you from seeing the driver’s face; or the very height of their vehicle prevents making eye contact!

Connor Herbert of the League of American Bicyclists (AKA Bike League) wrote on January 30, 2023:

“Large-scale cars, trucks, and SUVs, like the Ford F-150 and the Cadillac Escalade, put their drivers in a position away from the front of the vehicle and lifted into the air, meaning that drivers cannot see the ground for ten to twenty feet directly in front of them.”

Read Connor’s post to learn more, including how you can take action to help educate drivers about blind zones, along with how to submit or view blind zone data.

This post is dedicated to a Monterey resident who suffered

multiple fractures and other serious injuries in December 2022

when struck by a Ford F-150.

Related info on the Bicycling Monterey website

This post was published on 30 January 2023.

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