Will new laws teach us to play nice with others?
Rules; we have them whether you like it or not. Rules as a kid growing up helped mold us into responsible adults. Rules in school helped to guide us while we were educated. And rules throughout our adult life help to keep us in line. After a while it seems we forget about some of the rules and begin to do our own thing, but that’s not always a good thing especially when it comes to driving.
As of January 1, 2016 Ontario Canada has a few new laws to protect pedestrians from drivers… and from themselves. Drivers must now yield to pedestrians at marked crossovers (which are crosswalks in the middle of the block; not at intersections), school crossings or at crosswalks when a crossing guard is present. These should have all been common sense, but that hasn’t always been the case. That’s why new laws had to be implemented. In Ontario alone in 2013, there were over 4000 pedestrians injured and almost 100 killed on our roads. You can find the new laws here; http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pedestrian-safety.shtml#q1
Here’s the troubling part; this new law could have been avoided if pedestrians and drivers could get along. Let’s first talk about pedestrians. Before stepping off the curb, look in all directions for vehicles, including cyclists. Right of way is something which must be given, not taken. Even if you think you should be allowed to go, the only thing that’s going to stop you from reaching the other side safely is a vehicle. Parents need to teach kids these rules from a young age so they can become habitual to them as they get older.
Even though most, if not all of us, were taught to look both ways or all ways before crossing the road, it doesn’t happen…especially since there are also so many distracted walkers within our communities. For this reason, drivers must always be looking for pedestrians who may be crossing or about to cross before they proceed. Sounds like common sense, right? Well, if that was the case, why did this new law have to come into play?
To tell you the truth, it is sad when the government has to create more laws to protect drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Why can’t we all self-govern ourselves so we can protect each other? It’s kind of like teaching your kids to do their chores at home. After a while you don’t need to micro-manage them any longer. They can do it on their own. There may be a few times you have to remind them, but overall they do what they’re supposed to.
So here’s the plan; drive like someone’s always watching you. As a driver, work as a team player and not as an individualist. Be patient and allow the pedestrians or cyclists complete their cross. Move your eyes from side to side to spot them early so you have time to safely yield to them. As a pedestrian, expect a vehicle each time before you cross. Ensure the driver is slowing before stepping off the curb. Never assume the driver will see you until they actually do.
If we can all work together, maybe we can reduce personal injury and fatalities. It’s time to prove to ourselves we can follow rules and play nice with others.