Pedestrians responsible for road safety as well
The China Post news staff
May 31, 2010, 9:37 am TWN
Taipei City Councilor Hong Jian-yi criticized the city government for neglecting to enforce its pedestrian-first policy. Following a high-profile accident last month, in which former ambassador to South Africa Loh I-cheng was hit by a taxi and hospitalized, the issue of drivers not yielding to pedestrians is once again in the spotlight. The Taipei City Government cranked up the crackdown and issued almost 1,300 tickets in less than one month after Loh's unfortunate incident. It is true that motorists must respect pedestrians' right of way, but everyone using the road should be responsible for his own safety. In the same period that police stepped up their crackdown on unyielding motorists, no less than 5,785 pedestrians were fined for violating traffic rules, most of which was for jaywalking. According to the Department of Transportation, between 2007 and 2009, police issued 25,239 tickets for motorists failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks but more than 430,000 tickets for pedestrian violations. In that same period, Taipei City Police Department, Traffic Division's records show that around half of all pedestrians involved in traffic accidents between 2007 and 2009 violated traffic laws themselves.
The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, agreed at the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Conference on Road Traffic in 1968, places the responsibility for traffic safety on not only motorists but also pedestrians. According to excerpts from article 20, "Pedestrians wishing to cross a carriageway shall NOT step on to it without exercising care ... (or) without taking the distance and speed of approaching vehicles into account ... (or) without first making sure that they can do so without impeding vehicle traffic."
Taiwan is, for obvious reasons, not a signatory party, but there's no reason why the spirit of this treaty cannot be alive and well on this island. Traffic accidents will most likely decrease when both motorists and pedestrians realize that little can be gained by arguing over the legitimacy of their right of way.