Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Jaywalking law not on the books

Published:Sunday | September 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A pedestrian chooses a point on Highway 2000 where there is no crossing barrier, but still poses a traffic hazard.
With vehicles coming towards him, a pedestrian gets into stride to get out of the way along Highway 2000. -File PHOTOS
In 2005, Dr Alfred Sangster (foreground), chairman of the board of the Merl Grove High School, and then Transport Minister Robert Pickersgill walk students of the school across Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, shortly after an electronic pedestrian crossing was placed in front of the school.-File

Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer

While there appears to be no immediate plans to introduce a jaywalking law in Jamaica, the new Road Traffic Act is expected to address the duties of pedestrians as they utilise the nation's roadways.

Jaywalking is the illegal or reckless crossing of a roadway by pedestrians. Therefore, crossing the road without yielding to drivers, or starting to cross at a signalled intersection without waiting for the indication allowing pedestrians to do so (whether or not there is a pedestrian crossing) are both infractions.

Kenute Hare, director of the Road Traffic Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, said, "It's not on the cards with the present Road Traffic Act. What we are looking at is to try to get our pedestrians to fully appreciate and understand the importance of proper usage of the roadway. We really need their active participation in that area and for them to understand that with the modern technology like cell phones, they shouldn't be walking under the influence of these devices."

Pedestrian deaths up

Information provided by the unit shows that 67 persons were killed in pedestrian-related fatalities up to September 2013. This was a slight increase over the number killed during the same period before, as 63 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2009.

However, there had been a rise to 74 - so far - over the period in 2014.

There was no indication about the circumstances under which these persons died on the nation's roadways.

Sections 87, subsections 1-5 of the Road Traffic Act currently before Parliament outline pedestrians' road responsibilities. Speaking specifically about pedestrian safety, Section 5 requires that pedestrians not endanger themselves while on the roadway. It states:

"No pedestrian on a road shall conduct himself in such a manner so as to, or is likely to, constitute a source of danger to himself or to traffic which is or may be on the road."

In other countries, including Poland, Serbia, Kosovo, Mexico, Iran, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, jaywalking is prohibited and offenders are likely to attract sanctions.