Pedestrians being driven mad by motorists ignoring give-way rule

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/12 19:43:39

Local traffic police and volunteers in Weinan, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province promote the give-way rule on June 20, 2017. Photo: IC

Pedestrians in many cities are complaining that vehicles still zoom past them at crosswalks unless cops or cameras are around, two months after the top law enforcement body called on local police to do more to stop drivers breaking the rules.

Of 150 vehicles that met crossing pedestrians while driving down a road without traffic lights in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian Province, only 28 gave way to pedestrians despite the clearly-visible sign reminding them to do so, local newspaper Fujian Fazhi Bao reported Tuesday.

The report said that these drivers kept on trucking without being punished, while drivers in other cities have been less lucky.

Police in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province dealt with 3,275 such cases over 13 days of enforcement actions.

Beijing traffic police have begun fining motorists 200 yuan ($29) if they are caught failing to give way to pedestrians at crosswalks.

Beijing's Traffic Management Bureau has even included the rule in the city's written driving license test, the People's Daily reported.

Failing to give way will also land drivers with three points on their license. When motorists accumulate 12 points, they must retake their test.

China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has urged police nationwide to strengthen checks on and punishment of motorists who do not give way to pedestrians in violation of China's Road Traffic Safety Law, the Xinhua News Agency reported on June 17.

This announcement comes as the number of vehicles and traffic accidents have both soared in recent years, Niu Fengrui, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Tuesday.

During the past three years, 3,898 people were killed in 14,000 accidents on crosswalks in China, 90 percent of which involved motorists failing to give way to pedestrians, according to the Traffic Management Bureau of the MPS.

Fury road

Despite the government's efforts, many have complained that vehicles are still ignoring crossing pedestrians, mostly on roads without traffic police or surveillance cameras.

"At first cars stayed far from the crosswalk and let people walk first. But now they have become impatient again and started to cut into pedestrians," a Chengdu resident surnamed Tang told the Global Times.

Drivers have also complained about the effect of the new rules. "Jaywalking is more common than before. Pedestrians used to pay attention to the traffic lights but now they just cross without even checking the lights at all," a driver surnamed Zhao in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, told the Global Times, adding that some people amble across the road without even looking up from their cell phones.

"Because giving way to pedestrians was seen as just a recommendation in the past, many of them just ignored it because breaking the rule brought them no punishment whatsoever," Niu said, adding that people should give drivers more time to adjust.

Song Su, Sustainable Transport Research Associate from the World Resources Institute (WRI) China Office, said that the policy should only come into force after the government has done enough to enhance both drivers' and pedestrians' awareness of road safety.

Song and Niu both suggested that local governments should install more traffic lights and surveillance cameras and deploy more traffic police.

A good start

Qiu Shiyong, Sustainable Transport Research Assistant at the WRI China Office told the Global Times that the policy is "necessary."

"It's better to have such policy late than never. It may take time for people to get used to it but it's a good start," said Qiu.

"Seeing vehicles giving way to pedestrians not only makes me feel safe, I also feel the city is a more friendly and harmonious place to live," said Chengdu resident Tang.

Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, adopted a give-way policy in 2007, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, adding that the city piloted the policy with city buses, followed by other vehicles. 

Hangzhou only expanded the rule to apply to all vehicles in 2015.

Newspaper headline: Cross walkers

Posted in: SOCIETY

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