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    So I’ll admit being slightly surprised when this topic started to pick up a little momentum recently. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not headline news by any stretch of the imagination. But something that has been the topic of conversation here and there. And became even more relevant when recently raised by a local judge in court.

    Delivering a judgment recently, Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera called on legislators to consider the introduction of ‘pedestrian offences’, stating that pedestrians and drivers alike had obligations of safety on the road. Indeed a solid point, and one rarely raised locally over the years. The judges statements where then supported by Malta Road Safety Council chairman Pierre Vella, who told the Times of Malta the following:

    “Many people just cross the road at the most convenient spot, even when there is a zebra crossing a few metres away. But as a pedestrian you are still a road user, and you are not exempt from the rules of the road.” Again, completely solid argument and I agree with these sentiments 100%. There are way too many people who are hit by cars in this country. And the solution one would think is an achievable.

    Here is my take on the situation. Yes, its true. We have all probably jaywalked at one point or another in our life. It’s a part of the human make up. The shortest way is the best way. But really and truly we are all being quite ignorant and irresponsible. Ultimately putting ourselves, and others at unnecessary risk of grievous bodily harm or possibly worse. I have seen all manner of examples of persons using terrible judgement while on a walkabout.

    Walking on the road, when the pavement is free for example. Yes, I know, the pavements are not exactly silky smooth here in Malta. Granted. However, that is not an excuse for you to take the decision to walk on the road instead. Nuts. People walking with headphones in their ears. Massive no no. Just don’t do it. The collaboration between sight, hearing and spatial perception is an interesting topic that emphasizes the importance sound has in understanding and judging your environment. And let’s be honest, we can all space out when we have good tunes banging in our ears. So kids especially, but a message to all, unplug those headphones when you are on the move.

    And then people who cross the road when there is a crossing or traffic lights a short walk away. This one i just don’t get, it drives me insane. Again, while it may sound like I am taking the high road here, I at least make a concerted effort to use traffic lights and crossings when available. Mostly because I wish to set a good example to both my children and their generation, but also because I like living and don’t trust drivers to be as alert as they should. It’s an example we should all be setting to our children at the very least.

    Using the examples above, its obvious as a street walker one should take a lot more care. In this mobile/technology obsessed manic world, it is so easy for a driver to lose concentration for a split second and not see you. The consequences of this could prove disastrous. So be responsible, and take the step yourself to be extra vigilant.

    Back to the topic at hand, jaywalking and pedestrian offences. Do I agree with their being contraventions for jaywalking? Absolutely yes. Do I think that these laws will ultimately make a difference in our society? Actually, no. Why you might ask? Enforcement. Yep, its that old chestnut again.

    As we have all seen with driving, offences such as drink driving, using a mobile phone at the wheel, not wearing a seat belt etc. Stricter laws have been introduced over the years. Has this made a society overall respond accordingly? Hell no. Whilst statistics may tell you a story of improvements in this area, I would be shocked if any more than 5% actually give a royal shit in this country. And I can tell you this just by using my own eyes. From what I have seen, the problem hasn’t changed one iota.

    That is why bringing in any form of legislation will just be a monumental waste of time, unless of course they can finally solve the problem of enforcement. The government can blow hot air all it likes regarding this legislation and that, without failing to solve the real problem. BLOODY ENFORCEMENT. Time to chop and change. Reduce the amount of government workers on 6 hour days and perennial coffee breaks and throw some investment into a sustainable and effective traffic police force.


    * A previous post regarding the reaction to the worlds corruption… give it a read.


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