I almost knocked over a pedestrian last night.
It was raining and was pitch black,and the pedestrian ,who was a Goth teenager...dressed all in black...was busy fiddling with his cell phone as he walked along the pavement,with the headphones clearly lodged in his ears.
He simply changed direction , and turned left off of the pavement and onto the pedestrian crossing without looking at anything other than the screen of his cell phone.
Fortunately the combination of probably 2000 ripe-pustular-pimples set against a wide pale-moon face,made him fleetingly visible...just call me Vinnige Fanie!
And yet...had I knocked him over he would have claimed that it was my fault as he ,-legally-had right-of-way on the crossing.And doubtless the fuzz would have been all over me , like plaque on a coronary artery.
Now I should point out for the benefit of non-UK readers that most pedestrian crossings here are simply a series of painted white stripes on the road,with a "Belisha beacon" -(which is a flashing orange globe set atop a tall black and white pole)- , next to it, just like in the picture at the top of the post.
Their function is to provide additional visibility to zebra crossings for motorists, primarily at night. The flash commonly lasts one second in both on and off states.
They are named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, a Minister of Transport , who introduced them in 1934.
Hummh...wonder why they didn't call them a "Hore" Beacon...a term that in today's' Binge-drinking Britain, would be far more appropriate !
Pedestrians still comprise around a quarter of those who die in road collisions and statistics
published by the Department for Transport (2004) show that in Great Britain in 2003 over 290,000 people were killed or injured in road traffic collisions (36,405 were pedestrians).
Of course,these stats are no surprise to anyone who has driven in the UK for longer than a day, because in addition to the teenagers plugged into their phones and MP3's there are also a whole host of other assorted thickos who put themselves at risk including :
- Cyclists who suddenly decide that its easier to get across the road by suddenly stopping and turning onto the pedestrian crossing , rather than waiting for a break in the traffic flow-also without looking.BTW...very few cyclists wear helmets or any sort of reflective jacket as they are paradoxically harder to steal than a bicycle.
- Joggers...who anyway think that they have some divine protection because they are ...like...running...while you are ...like...not running
- Old Age pensioners who stand looking both ways for 5 minutes...then wave you on past them...and then step into the road
- OAP's on mobility scooters who also think that they have automatic right of way
- Students playing 'chicken'
- The drunks...always belligerent...who stand in the middle of the crossing shouting insults at all and sundry
- Assorted foreigners and tourists who have no idea where they are, from which direction the traffic is coming and or indeed,how they are supposed to get across the road when there are only 2 flashing yellow lights to protect you ?
So...as I say...I almost knocked the pedestrian over last night...
And it wasn't for lack of trying either...
I even reversed...and then followed him down an alley but he managed to get onto the top of a metal dustbin...and think of the damage that a dustbin could do to my car !