Did you know that some of Scotland's cities have the poorest records for pedestrians hit by motor vehicles? According to one pedestrian safety organisation, Glasgow ranks 9th worst in the UK with 86 pedestrians killed or seriously injured per 100,000 population against an average for UK cities of 46. Aberdeen ranks 12th with 81, Dundee has 70 and Edinburgh 65.
It is also a sad fact in Scotland that walking is more dangerous than driving a car.
We live in a world where the roads are perceived to ‘belong’ to the car. We all have a responsibility for our safety and the safety of others when sharing road space, but we must remember pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all road users and deserve our protection.
I wonder how many drivers would know that Rule 170 of the Highway Code states “drivers turning into a road should give way to pedestrians who have already started to cross that road?” Countless times pedestrians are caught running for the sanctuary of the opposite pavement or running backwards just to get out of the way of a car or lorry turning in.
Significantly, the attitude of the Courts has rather favoured pedestrians in recognition of the destructive disparity between driving a car and walking on the road and it is rare for a pedestrian to be found more responsible than a driver.
The Courts have also been reluctant to place all the blame on pedestrians even when they are quite inebriated. In one case, a driver who reversed over a pedestrian lying in the roadway in a drunken stupor outside her house was criticised for only looking over her right shoulder to avoid parked cars and not checking over her left shoulder. The drunken pedestrian was more blameworthy but the driver was found 40% to blame.
Children are particularly vulnerable and of course unpredictable when crossing the road and the Courts have stated on many occasions that a very high standard of care is needed when motorists drive by young children.
Pedestrians, unlike drivers, have no external protection and if hit by a car they are likely to suffer serious injury. Pedestrians are rarely a danger to others and it is right that the Courts see the car as a potentially dangerous weapon.