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Proper Use Of Pedestrian Crossings On Roads

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THE AVAILABILITY AND PROPER USE OF PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS ON OUR ROADS AND STREETS

Pedestrian crossings have been with us since the development of well demarcated roads and streets. It is to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users who must move from place to place. The zebra crossings are usually found at junctions of roads and streets and at places where human and vehicular traffic are high.

In developed nations, a vehicle must stop for the pedestrian who then steps on the markings as this indicates a person’s intention to cross. The markings are generally believed to be the safest place for pedestrians to cross, even though some vehicles refuse to stop for pedestrians to cross. Some countries have instituted strict laws including fines and penalties imposed on drivers who violate such laws. Even under such conditions some drivers find it intrusive when they must stop for pedestrians to cross.

In developing countries, some of these laws work and some do not. Most accidents occur at such crossings either through the fault of the pedestrian or the vehicle user. Generally, when there is slow moving traffic, the zebra crossing must be left free for pedestrians to cross at any time. It is often observed that drivers stop on the zebra crossing whilst in traffic and leave the pedestrians with little options to cross, putting their lives at greater risk of on-coming vehicles from the opposite direction. Some roads are not clearly demarcated, leaving the driver and the pedestrian confused when they are expected to be clear if the markings were available. In some countries, road users do not understand the road markings and do not know that there are benefits in using them, especially the zebra crossings. School children are mostly at risk when it comes to crossing of roads.

One cannot tell whether they are taught at school or not, where, and how to cross and this is clearly seen in their attitude when they are about to cross. Sometimes adults are culprits when they must cross the road at a T-junction or a crossroad. You will find pedestrians making their way through cars and motorcycles at the junction where the driver needs to make a turning decision, some of which can go wrong. Most of such junctions do not have road markings at all, some are faded and for some, the zebra crossings have not been clearly marked. It is unfortunate to see adults, who should know better, walking along the median on a highway, looking for an opportunity to cross. Some of these medians ironically have been barbed with wires, preventing pedestrians from using them.

Commercial vehicles along with their drivers and mates do not help when it comes to potential passengers crossing the roads and streets. Quite a number of such people have been hit and injured by oncoming vehicles, when they left the judgment of road crossing to the driver’s mate. To ensure the safety of road users in general, more practical education must be encouraged at the basic school level, helping our young ones who will soon become leaders to know the right thing, when it comes to pedestrian crossing and road use. Adults must understand the need to look for and patronize zebra crossings to their advantage and safety.

Even where there are no markings, road users should know where to cross, away from the junction confusion, and not amid turning vehicles. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, DVLA, must as a matter of urgency, enforce their rules especially during the training of new drivers and issuing of licenses so as to churn out road users who respect the laws and regulations. The Ministry of Roads and Highways should also make it a point to ensure that road contractors include zebra crossings at the appropriate places for the convenience of road users. The courts must help by imposing prohibitive fines and penalties that will make road users mindful of pedestrians and other road users in their attempt to navigate our roads daily.

By Naa Lamile Adade, An Entrepreneur And Former Broadcaster, GBC.

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