Protect those who abide by traffic rules

How can it be that a pedestrian who waits for the traffic light to turn green in his favour still has to check for oncoming traffic before he can cross the road, and bear some blame if a car hits him ("Pedestrians with right of way 'must still share responsibility'"; last Saturday)?

What if a driver is some distance away and then fails to stop while the pedestrian is crossing midway?

What if the pedestrian is a child or an elderly person who needs more time to cross the road? How much "responsibility" would he have to bear then?

Will the light remain green long enough for a pedestrian to wait for vehicles to come to a stop, make it across one half of the crossing, then wait again for vehicles to come to a stop before completing the rest of the crossing?

Stretching the argument further, what happens when the light turns green for a driver? Is this driver now supposed to ensure that the other drivers facing the red light have actually stopped before he starts driving across the intersection? How would that affect traffic flow?

What happens if a driver who has moved off on a green light is hit by a car that runs a red light? Does the driver crossing on the green light have to bear some responsibility for the other driver's negligence?

There must always be some assurances and protection afforded to those who are law-abiding, be they pedestrians or drivers.

It cannot be that one who complies with the rules now has to bear responsibility, no matter how small, for the failure or neglect of another road user. Furthermore, the weaker law-abiding person must always be protected from a stronger unlawful entity.

While court rulings may have to be guided by what is explicitly laid down in law, having "right of way" or being law-abiding should always be accompanied by assurances and protection by the state.

Has this "right" now been diluted? If the law does not clearly reflect the spirit of the right intended, it must be changed.

Perinpanayagam James

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Protect those who abide by traffic rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe