Zebra Crossing: Is it of right or privilege?

Using the Zebra Crossing, otherwise known as Pedestrian Crossing, in Ghana has become a nightmare for pedestrians. It is a common sight to see pedestrians at the edge of the road almost getting on their knees begging for motorists to stop for them to cross.

Of course, Zebra Crossing and other roads signs are not meant for decorative purposes. Indeed, they are public safety devices for the protection of people against deaths and injuries associated with reckless driving, which must be respected by all, especially the drivers.

Ghana is one of the countries with an unenviable record of road crashes with heavy fatality and injuries. Sadly, there are reported cases of people being knocked down on Zebra Crossings.

Zebra Crossing is said to have originated from the visit by James Callaghan, a Member of Parliament, to the British Transport Research Laboratory in 1948, to observe road safety devices. There, he was shown a black and white design and Callaghan was said to have remarked that the design looked like a Zebra, which has similar colours. Hence, it became widely known as Zebra Crossing.

Consequently, the Zebra Crossing design has been globally adopted on our streets, to serve as right of way for pedestrians’ safe passage at some designated spots on our roads.

Ghana has adopted the Zebra Crossing and made it part and parcel of our road traffic governance system, to ensure that pedestrians enjoy their right to safely cross the road.

Occasionally, our road safety authorities, including the Motor Traffic Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service, carry out public education to raise awareness on the use of Zebra Crossing.

In our view, public education campaign on road signs, especially on Zebra Crossing signs have not made significant impact as to engender confidence in pedestrians that they are safe to use the Zebra Crossing.

Motorists are required to stop when they see pedestrians waiting at the edge of  the Zebra Crossing, to allow them to cross; ironically that is the time that most  motorists  increase their speed.

Some pedestrians become desperate and impatient, especially after waiting for long without “catching the eyes” of drivers and in their bid to enforce their right of way, they are knocked down by reckless drivers.

There are instances where drivers ignore the Zebra Crossing and even insult pedestrians who are anxious to cross the road at the designated Zebra Crossing. We view this driver conduct as uncouth and unacceptable!

The use of Zebra Crossing in Ghana is more challenging with the menace of commercial motor riders, popularly known as ‘Okada” who flout road traffic regulations with impunity.

Zebra Crossing is certainly of right to pedestrians and must not be left at the pleasure of drivers!

The Ghanaian Times, therefore, calls on the Ministry of Transport and its agency to intensify their collaboration with the MTTD to sustain public education campaign on roads signs to instill discipline on our roads

Motorists must be educated to understand that stopping at the Zebra Crossing for pedestrians to cross is not only a moral obligation, but a legal one as well because it is widely accepted that Zebra Crossing gives the pedestrian a right of way!

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