SUNDAY MAIL - Saturday 20 June, 2009


Note:  What is it about people with prams?  They seem to push their kids out onto the road to see if there are any vehicles coming.

Adelaide jaywalkers risk life and limb

Sunday Mail - June 20, 2009 11:30pm



With a companion keeping an eye on her toddler in a
pram, a woman stops to pick up her shoe in busy traffic
near the Victoria Square tram stop

IT'S one of Adelaide's jaywalking hotspots, a place where pedestrians play chicken with traffic daily - and it's right outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

As police crack down on jaywalkers in the face of rising pedestrian deaths, the Sunday Mail has photographed dozens of people cutting across in front of trucks, weaving between cars and buses and risking their lives to cross the road.

Within metres of the RAH this week, people blatantly ignored traffic lights and common sense by dodging traffic on North Terrace.

And at Victoria Square, a mother left her baby in the middle of traffic to double-back and collect a shoe that fell off as she rushed across busy King William St in a bid to board a tram.

The Pedestrian Council is calling for tougher penalties, saying the present $40 fine for breaking the law is a "joke" and that council inspectors should also be empowered to fine jaywalkers.

But police say they are showing no leniency towards offenders. They have issued 52 fines, totalling $2080, to pedestrians in the first five days of a month-long crackdown on jaywalking.

Operation Amble, launched on Monday targets pedestrians at notorious hot-spots including areas on North Tce, King William St, Hindley St and The Parade in response to the seven pedestrians killed this year, compared with four at the same time last year.

Chief Inspector John Webber, of the Adelaide Local Service Area, warned that police would be "less tolerant" of people jaywalking with police officers directed to issue on-the-spot fines to law-breakers during the blitz.

"My view is that pedestrians don't respond to warnings," he said. "You only have to look around and see that people do take their lives in their own hands when they do cross roads.

"They're putting themselves at risk, they're putting other road-users at risk and I wouldn't want to be involved in an accident driving a car that hit someone who has disobeyed a light. There have been seven deaths and 40 serious injuries and that's not acceptable."

Under road rules it is an offence to cross a road within 20m of a pedestrian crossing or against a red light, with offenders facing a maximum $40 fine.

But Pedestrian Council of Australia spokesman Harold Scruby said the fine should be raised to at least $100 to send a strong message to the public.

"The fine as it stands is a joke," he said. "The problem is that there is a herd-like mentality, the first person will walk against the pedestrian light and the rest will follow, most of them wearing their iPods or talking on their phones.

"We're taught at a young age to 'Stop, Look and Listen' when crossing a road, but if you can't hear you take away one of the most important primary functions in pedestrian safety.

"Council inspectors should also be empowered to enforce these laws as well, because police are generally not interested . . . they do the occasional blitz and it goes back to normal again."