Pedestrians have become used to running for their lives when using the road or pedestrian crossing marks, popularly known as the zebra crossing, which is clearly marked in white or yellow and parallel to each other from one end of the road to another. It ensures the safety of pedestrians when using the road. The zebra crossing is mostly found on less busy roads, in the communities, school locations, and industrial areas.
According to the National Road Safety Commission, the road traffic regulations indicate that drivers are to give way for pedestrians to use the road where the zebra crossing has been clearly demarcated.
“Zebra crossings are not road decorations; they are on our roads for a purpose. Therefore, drivers must stop abusing such places to allow passengers to cross the road safely,” says Chief Superintendent Anderson Fosu-Ackah, of the Accra Central Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service..
Drivers have been educated and cautioned to stop for pedestrians to cross whenever they see them attempting to cross the road especially, on the zebra crossing but this has fallen on deaf ears.
Drivers over-speed on the road and the zebra crossing is of no concern to them. This issue has put the lives of pedestrians at risk and clearly suggests that some drivers are adamant and purposely disregard road safety signs.
It has now become difficult for children and the aged to use the road because instead of walking at a comfortable pace to get to the other end of the road, the drivers fail to slow down or stop for them. In instances, some energetic youth turn “Usain Bolt” whenever they get to the road in order to avoid being knocked down.
It is either you run for your life, which means being endangered by a reckless driver or ‘wait till forever’ on the road. Pedestrians have to wait for several minutes at places like, 37 Lorry park, Ayigbe Town junction, Graphic road, Abossey Okai, the Accra Sports Stadium, Abeka Lapaz and in front of the ADB branch at Achimota, in Accra before one out of hundred drivers would stop, who understands the importance of the white demarcations on the road. If not, then bold pedestrians take it upon themselves to stop the drivers, attractting insults from these drivers. These bold pedestrians sometimes end up with injuries resulting in hospitalisation or fatalities.
Motor-cycle riders are the worst offenders of disregard for traffic regulations. They have proven their disrespect for the zebra crossing regulations with the notion that the regulations are only for vehicles. They ignore the traffic lights as well as road signs and that has threatened the safety of pedestrians.
I have personally been a victim of their recklessness.
Maame Fosua, a resident at Ayigbe Town, poured out her sorrow as she lost her sister due to a driver’s negligence. “These drivers are really not doing well to protect our lives. I have lost my sister on this road even though there is a zebra crossing. On that day, all that the driver said to us was sorry. As I speak, the driver is going on with his work. I do not know what happened but he was not given any punishment for his crime,” she said.
Faustina Mensah, another road user, said, “These drivers make it look like we the pedestrians are some nuisance in their way, even on the parts created for us. When you get to this part where we have been taught belongs to us, they blow their horns so loud that we panic, which makes us feel we are already dead. Something really needs to be done about it.”
The Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service has issued a caution to motorists, warning that they will prosecute any driver who fails to stop for pedestrians at clearly marked locations. However, punishment for failure to stop is yet to be initiated. These drivers are reckless because they know the laws do not hold them accountable enough unless there is a fatality; even with that, some manoeuvre their ways to escape the law and continue to drive anyhow they choose.
If these drivers think that because the name is ‘Zebra Crossing’ they are meant for zebras, then the name should be changed to ‘Human Crossing’. There may be a need to stop saying zebra crossing and familiarize motorists with ‘Pedestrian crossing’ since the name only relates to the black and white or yellow and black markings of pedestrian crossings..
Issues of pedestrians’ safety should and must be a matter of concern to each individual. Everyone can be a pedestrian regardless; it is just a matter of where and when. It is also important to know that pedestrians are equally legitimate road users. A lot of road accidents happen daily due to the ignorance of drivers who refuse to adhere to road safety precautions. The safety and protection of human lives should be the priority of all motorists.