Last December my sister got knocked down by a mini-cab, as she was crossing the road on a zebra crossing. The speed limit in that area was 20 mph, which if the driver had adhered to, may have enabled him to stop before impact. As it happened, she was knocked high into the air, across several feet, and sustained serious injuries, which although not life threatening meant she spent four weeks in hospital, and five months unable to walk. She’s had to attend numerous hospital appointments, had to give up her full-time employment, and is in constant pain and thus physically limited, as a result of the many fractures she sustained that day. A day that changed her forever!
The foreign driver pleaded ‘not guilty’ at the plea hearing, so there is a CPS court case in December to establish whether a crime (driving without due care and attention) was committed or not, before my sister then has to take out her own private prosecution to sue the driver for damages, for the injuries that have impaired her future and compromised her mental, emotional and physical long-term health prospects. As this legal case is ongoing, I shall not comment further!
However, as you can see, the accident was more than a moment in time…as it will negatively affect her in some way, for the rest of her life!
Since my sister’s accident I’ve been shocked to hear of so many other instances of pedestrians being knocked down on zebra crossings. But this week I’ve heard of three, which has compelled me to write this article today, in order to bring some awareness to everyone, that using a pedestrian crossing is NO LONGER a safe way to cross the road.
One of the cases I heard about this week involved a four year-old child, who was crossing the road with his mother, but instead of walking across with her, decided to run ahead. He was hit by an oncoming car on the opposite side of the road, even though they were both already on the crossing! Another instance this week involved a 72 year-old lady, halfway across the zebra crossing, when a speeding car hit her but did not stop. Witnesses describe how she was catapulted into the air by the impact. Regardless of her injuries, her life will never be the same again because of the actions of a careless (???) driver! Although not witness to the accident, I passed by as the paramedics were working on her. I felt fury rise inside, at this unnecessary suffering. Why, when she was crossing at an allocated safety point, was she hit by a car…?
Like most others, as a child I was taught to cross the road at a zebra crossing. We stand, wait for cars on our side to stop (as then cars on other side must stop), then we confidently cross to other side. ‘It is safe’…we were told! But things have changed, and if we want to stay safe we need to acknowledge that using any form of pedestrian crossing means…we are at risk as soon as we step off the pavement!
There is more traffic, speeds are faster, there are more distractions for the driver…which shouldn’t mean that pedestrians are more at risk…but it does! Because whilst there are many conscientious drivers who do their utmost to stay safe, there are also inexperienced drivers, drugged and drunk drivers, drivers who have been banned for one reason or another – but still drive, drivers who still use their mobile phones whilst driving, drivers who think they own the road. Foreign drivers who don’t understand UK rules of the road. Drivers who are just not paying attention to what they are doing…the list goes on…and on!
I’ve tried to find the statistics for zebra crossing accidents. Here are just a couple to emphasis my point…
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2013 This states that in 2013 there were nearly 3,500 accidents on various types of pedestrian crossings!
https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/FEET%20FIRST%20PEDESTRIAN%20REPORT%200104%20FINAL.pdf This London Transport Committee report states that 25% of all pedestrian accidents occurred on zebra crossings!
There’s also this article in the Londonist, which talks about how cyclists are protected more than pedestrians.
So, it seems that whilst there are facilities to enable pedestrians to cross the road safely, can we really trust that pedestrian crossings are safe, and that we’ll reach the other side of the road unharmed?
Well I don’t know about you, but evidence to the contrary means I no longer believe that pedestrian crossings, especially zebra crossings, are safe! Are they fit for purpose? They are, but only if pedestrians and drivers follow the basic safety rules, which are contained within the links below..
The Department of Transport sets out Rules for pedestrians here…https://www.gov.uk/rules-pedestrians-1-to-35/crossings-18-to-30
This link is for drivers regarding pedestrian crossings…https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/pedestrian-crossings-191-to-199
As a pedestrian we cannot control drivers, so when using pedestrian crossings we must ensure it is safe to do so. Basically, this means we can’t automatically assume that when we step onto the crossing the oncoming cars will stop, so we have to be vigilant and follow these three simple rules…
1) Do not step into the road until traffic both ways has stopped!
2) Whilst crossing, we must pay attention and watch both ways for oncoming cars that may not stop, in order that we can avoid them if necessary!
3) This means we, as pedestrians, concentrate on what we are doing, which is keeping ourselves safe, thus no distractions, such as mobile phones/texting whilst we cross.
We all know that accidents happen, people walk out in front of traffic, kids run out into the road. But I believe that if greater attention was given to re-educating people about pedestrian crossings, there may be fewer casualties.
Which is why I’m writing this blog! As what I’m asking is that everyone who reads this article shares it’s content and tells friends and loved ones about how these simple safety rules could save their life. Just make them aware that they can’t automatically assume that they are safe when using pedestrian crossings, that they have to be vigilant all the time, that they must keep themselves safe…because pedestrians cannot control or predict what drivers will do!
We know what they should do…but cars do not have to stop at a zebra crossing unless someone is on it. And whilst there are some people who choose to not wait, and walk straight onto the crossing, forcing the cars to stop, it has to be remembered that car bodies can be repaired a lot easier than our human body!
Therefore, if we want to prevent accidents from happening, we must re-educate ourselves and our children about how to safely use pedestrian crossings! We must make it an issue so that people become aware of the dangers. Tell your children that cars don’t always stop, ask their schools to provide better information that will make the children more road wary, remind your elderly parents to be extra vigilant on crossings, because the rules have changed!
But above all, please make them understand that using a pedestrian crossing doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to cross the road at that moment in time!
We cannot wait for new harsher penalties to be imposed upon dangerous drivers, in order to make them more careful and our crossings safer. So in order to avoid being another accident statistic, pedestrians have to look out for themselves and follow the Green Cross Code, which many of us did learn in the past, but have forgotten. So to refresh your memory, here it is again…
I’ve learned from experience how the devastating effects of a road traffic accident can cause so many problems and ruin so many lives. I like to think that many of these accidents could be avoided, by promoting awareness of the three simple rules mentioned above.
Please share…it could save someone’s life!
Submit Your Own Article