Motor vehicles are not the only cause of road traffic accident. Sometimes, pedestrians have their part to play as well.
Pedestrian road rules are not myth. They exist and should be adhered to AT ALL TIMES. The rules and obligations of pedestrians are often overlooked, as pedestrians are the most difficult road users to persuade into safe road conduct and awareness of pedestrian rules seem to take a slow speed, therefore not making the impression it should.
Under Regulation 316 of the Nation Road Traffic Act, pedestrians have a set of obligations and rules that they need to adhere to, when walking the streets. This is due to horrors of tragic accidents involving innocent pedestrians. South African statistics show that thousands of road accident deaths included more than 40% of pedestrians.
The general rules and obligations of pedestrians, under Regulation 316, include:
- Pedestrians may not walk on a road where the sidewalk borders on a public road; unless crossing.
- If a road does not possess a sidewalk, a pedestrian has to walk as near to the edge of the roadway on their right-hand side, facing oncoming traffic; unless prohibited.
- Pedestrians may only cross a public road if it is free from oncoming traffic.
When walking across a pedestrian crossing, a pedestrian may not linger, but proceed.
- Pedestrians can only cross at a pedestrian crossing, intersection, or at a distance further than 50-metres from both pedestrian crossing or intersection.
- Pedestrian visibility is vital! As a pedestrian, it is important to be able to avoid alcohol and make yourself visible at night time. It is also important to note that it is easy to misjudge the speed and distance of motor vehicle users.
There are three main parts to the rules and obligations of pedestrians.
- Safety strategy: The National Department of Transport has developed secure foundations for road law responsibility, compliance and mutual respect. The safety strategy will include six crucial areas requiring the discussion of working systems, structures and pedestrian safety.
- Pavement sharing: You need to share pavement space with others; if not, they will have to pass you by stepping onto the roadway, which may get them knocked over.
- No pavement: If there is no pavement, you are obliged to walk as far as possible to the road’s right hand side, facing oncoming traffic. In this way, you will not get knocked from behind and oncoming safety risks will be visible to you.
- Stop and look left and right before you cross.
- Controlled crossings are the safest spots to cross; for example, at traffic lights.
- When crossing at a bus stop, ensure that the straight section of the road has no vehicle traffic.
- If crossing at a traffic lights, you are obliged to walk fast between the solid white lines, be aware of vehicle drivers, do not cross when red or yellow, cross when green and do not cross when the ‘red man’ appears.
- Where there are crossings with no marking, ensure that you cross on a straight stretch of road away from any bends.
- Use a pedestrian bridge when at a freeway.
- When crossing the street, see and be seen – watch your environment and maintain visibility.
- Be cautious at a marked pedestrian crossing. Not all drivers will stop for you.
- Wear bright-coloured clothing at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs while walking, as it alters your co-ordination and sight. You may just walk into a car. However, if you are intoxicated or have been taking drugs, wait until it has worn-off before walking. There is not quick and easy remedy to sober up – you will only be fooling yourself and your life if you think drinking a coffee will help. Wait it out instead.
A simple road traffic misunderstanding and not complying with the above rules can cause major crashes, that may be tragic to you and the drivers in involved. As a pedestrian, following your road traffic rules and obligations is therefore not only relevant to your safety, but also to the safety of other road users.
The above information, as retrieved from Arrive Alive, is simply a guide and does not change any laws, rules and regulations, as stipulated in the South African National Road Traffic Act, National Road Traffic Regulations, or The Official K53 Learner’s and Driver’s Manual.
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