Pelican or, How Not to Get Hit by a Car

Gemma Mushington
4 min readOct 14, 2020

I have been in two car accidents and, since the first, I have been afraid to cross the road.

Here in the UK, we have a few different types of pedestrian crossings, usually named after animals. For example, a Zebra Crossing is a crossing between two pavements, getting its name from the black and white stripe signalling the crossing area. There’s the Pelican Crossing which, to my knowledge has nothing to do with the physical appearance of a pelican or even the emotional characteristics of a pelican, which I cannot even begin to describe.

Also, there’s no such thing as “jaywalking” here, which is the illegal act of crossing the road at a point which is not suitable or specifically designed as a pedestrian crossing. However, if you decide to cross at a place in the road where common sense would not advise, I’m sure my fellow Brits would appropriately deem you a “numpty” and for that I do not blame them.

I’ve been in two car accidents. The first, as a driver. The second, as a pedestrian. I know what you’re thinking, “Call me when you’ve been in seven!” but, I’m afraid I will not get to that lucky number seven because, well, death.

I always preface the story of my first (and who doesn’t like to reminisce about their first?) with the following: It wasn’t my fault. And it wasn’t. But, when you also tell people that it was your first driving lesson, they quickly become doubtful.

Yes, it was my first driving lesson, it also happened to be the birthday of my maternal grandmother, a woman I did not meet, but my mother believed she was watching over me that day. My maternal grandmother died in a car accident, by the way.

The lesson was going fine. Nervous, but breathing. We were coming up to a crossing. It would be fun if I could remember exactly what sort of crossing it was, but I can’t remember the detail of it — my mind was elsewhere once the accident had happened, to be honest. But, I think it was a Pelican. As we came up to this crossing, I slowed down. The person behind me did not — a stressed out mother in a 4x4 who had turned around to see to her screaming baby. She hit us in the back. My airbag did not deploy. I was shocked. My instructor was in worse condition than me. The car, comparatively even worse so, it had to be written off…