Vehicular Traffic Gives Right-of-Way to Ensure Pedestrian Safety
Vehicular Traffic Gives Right-of-Way to Ensure Pedestrian Safety
According to studies by the Traffic Division,Taipei City Police Department, traffic-related death toll between 2004 and 2008 was registered at 428; among which, 119 were pedestrians, accounting for 28% of the total death toll, ranking one place behind the 207 (48%) deaths from motorcycle-related accidents. As for age groups, 81 pedestrians aged above 65 accounted for 68% - at the very top - of the total death toll. Time-wise, 34 pedestrians (28%) died between the hours of 0400-0800, 39 (33%) were killed between the hours of 1400-2000. Senior citizens, due to poor mobility, require longer time to make the crossing; in other words, drivers need to be more patient with these aging pedestrians. Finally, out of the 119 pedestrians killed, 34% lost their lives because drivers failed to give them the right-of-way. This evidences the great room for improvement in giving the right-of-way to pedestrians
Giving pedestrians the priority to travel is a given in developed countries. In Taipei City, where population and vehicle densities are high, more appeals and endeavors should be committed to this area. Drivers in Taiwan weren't given traveling priority when they were young; therefore, when they grew up, they took it for granted that they need not give "right of way to pedestrians." We ascribe this to the poor driving habits.
Every one of us is a pedestrian at one point another in any given day. In other words, as soon as drivers get out of their cars, they become pedestrians; and when that happens, they certainly hope to be respected by fellow vehicular drivers. With a little change of heart, and treat all pedestrians with empathy, "giving pedestrians the right-of-way" isn't difficult at all.
The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing successfully instilled the habit of queuing in line among Beijing citizens. A year later in Taipei City, the 2009 Deaflympics are to kick off to accommodate nearly 4,000 athletes and about 10,000 people of entourage. The safety of these athletes with hearing impairment is of top concern to the City. As the first metropolis to host Deaflympics in Asia, what needs to be done in infrastructure wellness and citizen sensibilities for Taipei to handle the tournaments in style? A city where pedestrians are given traveling priority, of course! The City Government hopes to encourage a culture that "gives traveling priority to pedestrians" among its drivers by virtue of organizing the Deaflympics. This should come naturally, and is an achievable objective.
First of all, the law ensures that pedestrians have absolute traveling priority at crosswalks. We encourage drivers to keep a respectful distance from these sections as pedestrians travel by, and start driving after the pedestrians have safely crossed the street, so that pedestrians don't feel threatened or pressured. Pedestrians should also be given the right of way when crosswalks are absent.
The Taipei City Police Department offers drivers a formula to gauge the distance kept between them and the pedestrians. Keep the distance between you and pedestrians at the lengths of several crossties; in other words, stay away from pedestrians at the length of a lane (about three meters, or three to four crossties).
Police departments continued with law enforcement measures, and by July, 2009, these laws will be administered on a heightened level. Nevertheless, we hope that drivers yield the right of way to pedestrians out of habit - instead of doing so due to increased law enforcement.
We can never emphasize enough - people on foot have to stay within the bounds of pedestrian course of travel to enjoy absolute right of way.
When waiting for the stop lights to turn, pedestrians are advised to take a step back on the sidewalk and wait. The maneuvering of large vehicles - particularly buses, container cars, semi-trailer trucks and gravel trucks - is tricky due to the difference of radius between inner wheels on these vehicles require delicate distance measuring when they make turns. Drivers can't see all that clearly due to the blind spots in their seating space; consequently, motorcyclists and pedestrians are easily run over and hit by the rear wheels of these large vehicles. When encountering left-turning and right-turning vehicles as you cross the street, be sure to make the cross as soon as possible. If there isn't enough time to make the crossing, think over other options to avoid possible safety issues.
Additionally, some pedestrians are found to carry on conversations on their mobiles when traveling on crosswalks. Despite the absence of a legal ban on such conduct, talking on one's cell phone while crossing the street is extremely perilous. A college student paid the ultimate price for chatting on her mobile phone while traveling on the crosswalk. Her phone remained connected when a car crushed her and she breathed her last. We thus urge pedestrians to look to the left, right, and left for oncoming traffic before quickly making the crosswalk.
Also, in sections where pedestrian travel is prohibited - including areas within 100 meters of 3D structures, where prohibitory markings, dividing islands, traffic embankment, one-way traffic with three lanes - do not attempt to break the law and make the crossing. Pedestrians are urged not to travel in areas where right-of-way does not exist just so they can save time; rather, they are advised to find sections where traveling priority is ensured. Do not risk your life for the sake of momentary expediency.
According to Article 45 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Regulations, drivers are fined between NT$600 and 1,800 for traveling on sidewalks. Also, in accordance with sub-article 3 in Article 124 of the Road Traffic Safety Regulations, slow-traveling vehicles are prohibited from driving in fast lanes or sidewalks. Article 69 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Regulations has included bicycles as one of the "slow-traveling vehicles"; bicycles are allowed to travel on open sidewalks, where shared roadway markings are erected; otherwise they are prohibited.
We often witness bicyclists riding on sidewalks illegally, where markings of "shared roadway" are nowhere to be seen; they even ring the bells on the handlebar, demanding pedestrians to yield. This is simply rude. When the City Government opened up certain sidewalks to bicycle travels, it had done so on the principles of "respect" and "sharing" and allowed bicyclists - who are clearly at a disadvantage on regular roadways - to travel on the more spacious roadways, so that they are free from the threat of both cars and motorcycles. In the same spirit that the law was enacted, bicyclists should be sympathetic with fellow pedestrians when they travel on shared roadways with other commuters; or they'd not be welcomed very soon on sidewalks, and won't be able to enjoy the limited road spaces with pedestrians. Bicyclists must heed these advices always.