Pedestrians be cautious...arrive alive

2014-12-12 10:32

As the festive period is upon us, lots of communication goes out to people about the need to be safe on the roads as they travel to different destinations. One aspect not often touched on has to do with the safety of pedestrians.

Coming across the following headline Boy killed running across N3 in Durban brought back vivid memories of an incident which occurred on Saturday (6 December) which would have scarred me and my wife for life.

Close call

The incident happened as we were on our way to see some friends who stay about 15 minutes from our place. The traffic light had just turned green and we took off. There was a lady who was carrying a little girl in her arm and plastic bag in the other hand.  On the lady’s right there was a boy aged around 4 years who was walking by himself- without his hand being held. To the left of the woman was another lady holding a plastic bag, they were walking together.

As our batch of traffic took off from the traffic light, the woman started walking to cross the road from our right side (at an undesignated crossing point). My wife pointed out for me to be aware of the people as we took off at the traffic light. I had seen them but not there was a child because there was a vehicle on the right side. When the woman realised she would not be able to beat us across, she decided to stop at the white line in the middle of the road.

But…her son continued walking, because he hadn’t seen that the mum had stopped. I had to do an emergency stop with the wheels slightly turned to the left. In that split second my reasoning was, “at least if the car bumps the child he will fall but the car won’t run over him.” I thank God because I wasn’t going fast since the area is a busy one. Miraculously, I just remember seeing the child being lifted out of the way as well.

Although K-53 states one needs to look in the rear view mirror before doing an emergency stop, I never got time to look in the rear view mirror. A car which was in the left lane (into which I encroached) bumped into my far left side of the bumper. There was no extensive damage to our vehicle although the sound I heard was somewhat amplified. I wonder if the authors of this had ever tested it in real emergency situations. During the emergency situation my focus was more on preserving the life of that four year old boy. Had I started by looking behind me, I most likely would have bumped into him.

Jaywalking

I looked up jaywalking in the South African context and I came across the following AA article; "Jaywalking, in colloquial terms, is defined as the illegal or reckless crossing of a roadway by a pedestrian. This not a legal term in South African law, therefore it does not have its own charge code in our criminal law and procedure.

Regulation 316 of the National Road Traffic Act sets out the duties of a pedestrian and further specifies where a pedestrian may cross a road and under what circumstances they may do so.

Firstly, a pedestrian may cross a public road only at a pedestrian crossing or an intersection or at a distance further than 50 metres from a pedestrian crossing or intersection.

Secondly, a pedestrian may only attempt such crossing when he has satisfied himself that it is safe for him to make this crossing and does not pose a danger to other road users.

There are duties and obligations placed on pedestrians however, a greater duty of care is placed on the driver of the vehicle when it comes to reacting to pedestrians on the road, and this will impact greatly on the issues of liability should it arise."

Be safe, Arrive alive

Pedestrians, be safe on the roads. Please don’t cause some driver suffering because of your carelessness. Today we could have been telling a different story had I not managed to brake at the point that I did.

Have a blessed festive season.

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