Who should give way at the Pedestrian crossing? The driver or the pedestrian?
I’m not joking, this is a genuine question.
20 years ago when I first came to Singapore, it was very clear-cut. At zebra crossing the pedestrian is king. Motorists would slow down and give way to people who is crossing or prepare to cross. However, over the years, the protection offered by the pedestrian crossing seems deteriorated. You are now STRONGLY ADVISED to STOP and check, to make sure the cars have stopped before crossing.
On the other hand, some drivers are showing little respect to pedestrian crossing. e.g.
- It is common to see cars encroach and block the zebra crossing.
- At traffic intersection, impatient drivers cut in between crossing pedestrians to make a right turn.
Some drivers drive through as people waiting at zebra crossing. video credit: Boonchun
Such disrespect to the pedestrian crossing may have been “legitimised” by a recent communication from LTA.
Given the deteriorated driving culture, the first part of the message is not wrong. Couple with the graphical images it almost sound like a death threat.
Taking simple precautions while riding your devices in public can help save lives. Riders, stay safe on the road by sparing a few seconds to stop and check that it is safe before crossing.
However, the second part of the message is worrying:
Motorist can also play a part in exercising patience, slowing down and looking out for pedestrians, cyclists and PMD riders at crossings before driving.
This make it sounds as if the driver’s part is optional. Is this a reflection of the reality, or does LTA really believe the driver should not play the dominant role in road safety?
Famous local blogger Mr. Brown posted in FaceBook yesterday:
This is why drivers often almost kill pedestrians at zebra crossings. The Land Transport Authority tells pedestrians to “Stop. Look. Cross.” while telling drivers they can just “Slow. Check. Drive.”
When in reality, the onus should be on drivers to “Slow the Heck Down. Stop. Look. Look Again. Then Drive.”
Of course we are responsible for our personal safety, and we must teach our kids things like don’t look at their phones while crossing roads, and so on. But the law must always protect the weaker users first. The hammer must always come down harder on the person wielding the vehicle that can kill.
The recent episodes remind me of a controversial case in 2015.
Even if the lights are in their favour, pedestrians still have to check for oncoming traffic.
This was held in a rare 2-1 Court of Appeal decision in which the Chief Justice dissented.
Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Quentin Loh, who were in the majority, explained their reasoning by highlighting a Highway Code rule that requires pedestrians to be on the alert.
“Pedestrians should take charge of their own safety,” the court said in judgment grounds issued on Thursday, and decided the injured victim in the case before it was 15 per cent to blame despite having the right of way.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who wrote a separate view explaining his objections, said the ruling means
“that pedestrians will no longer be able to take comfort in the fact that they are crossing at a point controlled by a police officer or by traffic lights”.
“They will have to safeguard themselves in precisely the same manner in such circumstances as if they were jaywalking.”
Indeed, if the rule of law is so powerless, what’s the meaning of traffic rules and priority?
I’m not expert in law, but since young, my mother told me “must follow the law” because only bad guy breaks the law. As a layman, I understand the law is a clear reference to judge what is right or wrong.
One of the recent Active Mobility Advisory Panel recommendation is to introduce mandatory stop for cyclists and PMD users before they cross a pedestrian crossing, while drivers were only strongly encouraged to slow down and check.
I have difficulty to understand, why this new law stress that people who need to cross the road MUST STOP and check in order to protect themselves, while the driver, who can get others hurt, were only encouraged to SLOW down, check and drive?
What if there is no car in sight and I just run/cycle/scoot across the zebra without stopping, will I break the law?
What if a driver “SLOW” down from 50kph to 49kph and dash across the zebra while people waiting to cross, is that OK?
Such statement in law send a conflicting and dangerous message to the average driver and which may legitimise an aggressive driving culture.