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The Madera Tribune

How one law could trump another

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webmaster | 04/30/13

There are laws of matter. Then, there are laws that matter.

A good example of a law of matter is Newton’s Second Law of Motion. That law says that the acceleration of a body of matter is parallel and directly proportional to the net force acting on the body and is inversely proportional to the mass of the body. Here is what that means: If you accelerate a car’s engine, the car will move forward (or backward if you have it in reverse) faster.

An example of a law that matters is one that requires pedestrians not to jaywalk in front of moving cars. If moving cars hit jaywalkers, both jaywalker and car may be injured, and thus the no-jaywalking law matters both to the car and the jaywalker.

There’s a general impression out there that pedestrians always have the right of way, but they don’t when they’re jaywalking. If you run out in front of a car, you probably will be injured or killed, and you may become responsible for the damage you do to the car.

Pedestrians do have rights-of-way in clearly marked crosswalks at intersections, but if there is no marked crosswalk, the pedestrians could be in trouble.

Even if a pedestrian does have the right-of-way, he or she should not tempt the law of averages, which says if a car is coming faster than you can walk, and the driver happens to be texting or drinking a cup of coffee, the pedestrian could be toast. Flattened toast. It may be that the pedestrian has the right-of-way, but Newton’s Law of Motion could trump the law against running over pedestrians in clearly marked crosswalks at any time.

Here’s a law called Robert’s rule of idiot pedestrianism: You don’t have to pound like a bass drummer on the button at an intersection crosswalk to make the Walk light go on. One push of the button will be plenty, thank you.


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