I never really had to encounter pedestrians while driving until I started working as a campus shuttle driver at my school four months ago. During this past semester, I've met a lot of great people I've had the honor to drive around. Yet, I've also encountered my fair share of pedestrians, and I have realized that they can, unfortunately, be pretty rude.
As a shuttle driver, I am obliged to drive under fifteen miles per hour, yield to pedestrians (and other people who may be driving on campus) at all times, and to never honk at anyone ever. It's possible that campus pedestrians are aware of these facts and take advantage of us shuttle drivers. But it still blows me away when some of them act so uncourteously.
Pedestrians, a lot of the time, won't thank me or give me any form of acknowledgment when I yield to them. They'll either stop or slow down, look up at me (or the car), and return to walking without giving me any type of acknowledgment that they're aware I just let them safely cross the street.
Whenever I'm the one walking in front of a car that just yielded to me, I lightly smile and give them a little wave. Sometimes if I'm rushing or in a bad mood (or if the car didn't seem like it was going to stop for me at first) I'll ditch the smile but still give them a wave. Even though drivers are legally obligated to yield to pedestrians, they can always fail to give them the right of way. It just seems like common decency to thank drivers who let me cross the road.
It's also pretty annoying when a pedestrian is walking in the middle of the road and sees that I'm trying to drive, but continues to walk anywhere but the sidewalk, sometimes at an even slower speed. I'm not exaggerating when I say that some people will actually look me in the eye and refuse to let the shuttle drive through. These people must be taking advantage of the fact that we can't honk at them.
I'm not suggesting there's a party at fault in these situations, but I think it's also important to note that, for the most part, college students walking around campus are focused on anything but where they're going. I want to say that out of ten walking students that I drive past, eight of them are wearing some type of headphones. This means that they're probably zoned-out, either listening to music or a podcast or talking to someone on the phone.
Sometimes people give me dirty looks when they realize I'm driving close to them as I try to squeeze through the narrow roads of campus. It makes me laugh when they give me these looks because they're the ones who are so distracted that they're almost walking into a moving car! Even I can be guilty of getting caught up in a song or a conversation I'm having on the phone. But, whether or not pedestrians are distracted, they should still be able to show some decency to drivers.
So, if you're a nice pedestrian who thanks drivers when they yield to them, I personally thank you. But if you're a pedestrian who hasn't been so nice lately, I hope you see where we drivers are coming from and start giving some little waves every once in a while. It costs $0.00 to be a decent pedestrian, and giving even the lightest of waves can save a driver from a lot of frustration. But, hey-- even if you don't, it's not like I can honk at you anyway; it's your call.