But wait! Before we go on, some important considerations . . .
The rest of this Section gives more details about teaching students to assess situations and recognize Situations of Uncertainty.
But first I want to point out or remind you about a few important considerations:
CROSSINGS cannot be assessed, only SITUATIONS can be assessed!
It is important to remember that the conclusion you make about a situation is true only under those conditions of the situation that was assessed.
You can analyze situations, but you cannot make any conclusions about crossings, because the situation at each crossing can change.
For example if the crossing is analyzed while the road is wet, the conclusion may not be the same as it would be when it is dry, or when the residual noise level is louder, or when a parked truck blocks the sound of traffic.
At the crossing where Gordon Parks was killed, for example, analysis showed that the crossing was a Situation of Uncertainty at 4:00 Friday afternoon, but not at 8:00 the next night.
Saturday night, it was possible to hear the vehicles much further, perhaps because the sound level of "quiet" was lower then.
To help ensure that students can recognize Situations of Uncertainty, it is important that they successfully assess at least one Situation of Uncertainty
and at least one Situation of Confidence
Until students have experienced and recognized a Situation of Uncertainty as well as a situation where they can hear/(see) the traffic from BOTH directions with enough warning to be confident that it is clear to cross when quiet/(they see nothing coming), they may assume all crossings are always a Situation of Uncertainty, or always a Situation of Confidence.
I remember one student saying in exasperation after experiencing several Situations of Uncertainty, "I GET it, already! We can never feel safe crossing any street, so now what?"
I made sure his next crossing situation was a Situation of Confidence.
To provide a variety of conditions, you can go to various crossings, or you can vary the conditions at one crossing.
For example, after you and your student have analyzed a crossing situation, you can assess the same crossing again after you change the situation by adding a steady masking sound, or setting up a barrier such as a parked car to block the sound or the view of approaching vehicles, etc.
Each crossing situation requires analyzing TWO situations!
It is important to realize that at streets with two-way traffic, the crossing actually presents two distinct situations to analyze -- one for traffic from the left (the first half of the street) and one for traffic from the right (the entire crossing).
These two situations may be very different from each other, and often they are.
This is because the warning times for vehicles from one side may be very different from that of vehicles from the other side.
Also, the warning time that you need for vehicles from the left is much less than the warning time you need for vehicles from the right.
This is because you only need to cross the first half of the street in order to get out of the way of vehicles from the left, whereas you need to cross the entire street before you are out of the way of vehicles from the right (the opposite is true in countries where people drive on the left side of the road).
So does that mean that a crossing can be two different situations at the same time?
No. For each crossing, you need to combine the situations from the right and the left to come up with the crossing situation as follows:
- You can be confident about when it is clear to cross ONLY IF there is enough warning of approaching vehicles from BOTH directions.
- Therefore the crossing is considered a Situation of Uncertainty if the traffic from either the right or the left (or both) is a Situation of Uncertainty.
The goal of the training is for students to be able to assess situations or judge gaps in traffic naturally and intuitively, without having to consciously measure time.
Although stopwatches or other measurements of time are used by the instructor during the training as an assessment tool to provide feedback, after the training the students should be able to recognize Situations of Uncertainty intuitively -- they shouldn't have to resort to timing or counting.
The same is true for training students to judge gaps in approaching traffic, as explained in Section 4 -- when students can see traffic approaching, they should be able to instinctively recognize whether or not there is time to cross, and the instructor uses a stopwatch to verify their accuracy.
When teaching students to recognize Situations of Uncertainty, be precise about what you're asking them to observe and report.
When teaching students to recognize Situations of Uncertainty, ask them to determine whether they can hear/(see) the approaching vehicles with enough warning,
don't ask them whether or not the crossing is "safe."
Situations of Uncertainty are those in which you don't have enough warning of approaching vehicles to be confident that it's clear to cross,
whereas "safe" is a subjective term regarding the acceptance of risk.
Assessing the level of risk will be covered in the next section, and Section 5 has a discussion about using the word "safe" appropriately.