I remember from school I was taught about Zebra crossings. The place where people should cross a road. As a child it was fun to spot these because of the ‘Zebra’ reference.
Technically a zebra crossing is where you must be prepared to stop and give way to any pedestrians waiting to cross. Once a pedestrian has stepped onto the crossing you must give way and stop.
Seeing traffic on our roads and the prevalent driving etiquette, it’s probably safe to say, not many people follow this. The ones who do, mostly do so inconsistently (myself included) and in heavy traffic risk being honked at to even road rage.
Why does it happen? Some explanations:
1. There’s no painted Zebra crossing in my town.
2. What are you talking about?
3. I purposely do not recognize traffic laws due to ‘XYZ’ reason.
4. The law isn’t applicable in Pakistan because there are too many pedestrians.
5. The law isn’t applicable in Pakistan, because Pakistani car owners have important things to do and pedestrians need to wait for their turn after the road is clear.
6. I know but it’s been so long that now my brain doesn’t even register the sign.
7. I know but since nobody is following, why should I care? Or with just me following, what difference would it make, everyone is corrupt!
8. I know I should but it’s too hard to stop
In my opinion we probably can’t do much about #1-5. For others, we may have a chance. Regardless of what the law says, pedestrians are at a disadvantage (speed wise), they deserve our courtesy. I know traffic stress is already unbearable due to congestion, tailgating, road rage etc., and after all those things, stopping for someone (without a car) is the last thing one needs. Not to mention, violations will be hardly enforced. But does this mean we shouldn’t even try? At least when we easily can.
At some crossings, a thought occurs to a lot people I am sure for respecting the zebra crossing, part of being civilized but when noones’ stopping for it, why should they risk the the flow of traffic.
Imagine what one stop could do? It could literally make a difference in someone’s life. Speaking from personal experience, standing at the crossing waiting and waiting on someone to stop, adds frustration, a feeling of helplessness and negativity. On the contrary if someone stops, then to be honest, these days I’d be a little surprised, thinking if it’s too good to be true. But if it is then that will probably make my day.
Having said all that, reality demands we still take care when stopping. So the following are some compilations to help us safely stop:
1. Try to remain within speed limits so you have less problems stopping.
2. Keep an eye out for tailgaters (tailgating: car behind is not maintaining a safe distance and is very close).
3. Safety first – It’s better to violate this rule than risk safety especially of pedestrians.
4. Plan your stop.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking to expect things to change overnight. Being realistic we all can start at some level, from driving a bit slower to actually stopping. But I’m sure the very least we can do is not show anger at the person who’s doing it. After all, what will I say to a child who learns about it in school and asks why I didn’t stop?