21 August 2014

Right of Way

At some point in time, since I finished my last 'how to be a safe pedestrian' class in primary school and since I gained my drivers' licence in high school, the road rules appear to have been changed. It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that people think that pedestrians have right of way in all circumstances.

A couple of weeks ago I was slowly (thank goodness) working my way through a shopping centre car-park, when a man stepped out in front of me to cross the road. We were three car spaces from a marked pedestrian crossing, but it would seem he couldn't wait. Even though I came within mere inches of him, he never acknowledged me. I can only surmise that he'd spent some time in Asia, where I first learnt that to meet a driver's eyes is to grant them right of way. If you never look directly at the driver, you, as the pedestrian, have full immunity. (Although I'm not sure how well that goes down in court after you're hit.)

Last week I was driving down our back streets, taking the Teen to school. There were several groups of children - primary school aged children - walking to the various bus stops. They were walking down the middle of the road. The road doesn't have paved footpaths, it only has grassed verges. And I know, if it's let grow too long, the grass can be a bit wet and cold this time of year in the mornings - but I did expect them to move out of the path of my oncoming vehicle. But no. Apparently they believe they have right of way and I (and my car) are required to change lanes to go around them.

Tonight, driving home in the gloom of dusk, I spied movement on the road ahead of me. Two people, wearing dark clothes, were having a discussion (it seemed reasonably calm and normal - not a drunken brawl) in the middle of the street. Again, I expected them to move out of the path of my oncoming vehicle. Silly me. These two adults have apparently learnt the same road rules as the local primary school children.

Sadly, I suspect from other events going on around me, that this disregard for rules designed to protect people, is not limited to pedestrians and the roadways. I see a growing "I'll do it my way" movement, that has little or no consideration for anyone else. I just wonder what happens when they meet a driver with the same attitude?

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