Are Us Driving Laws More Driver or Pedestrian Oriented?
The question of whether the rights of drivers or pedestrians are more protected has long created a lot of controversy and debate. However, it is worth noting that the US driving laws are developed primarily to ensure a safe movement for all its participants. Therefore, judging without prejudice, it is possible to assume that the rights of both drivers and pedestrians are equal in this case. This conclusion suggests that in most situations where these two parties interact, both have privileges and limitations depending on the circumstance. The right-of-way regulates how a pedestrian should behave when crossing a road and how the driver should react to it. However, given the physical vulnerability of pedestrians to vehicles, it is logical to assume that traffic rules are still more concerned about the safety of pedestrians who are much more likely to be injured in the event of a car accident than drivers. This argument is the reason for the special rights of pedestrians if they appear in a crosswalk. However, at the same time, the pedestrian has fewer rights than the driver while he is still on the sidewalk. Therefore, it is difficult to judge whether the driving laws are pedestrian-or driver-oriented since both have their rights and responsibilities, and the balance varies depending on the situation. However, since the purpose of these laws is the safety of human life, and pedestrians are much more vulnerable to physical injuries than drivers, the conclusion is that the US traffic laws are more pedestrian-oriented.
Despite the seeming equality of rights between all road users, drivers have much more responsibilities to pedestrians than vice versa. In general, the main task of pedestrians is to remain vigilant and monitor the situation on the road, while drivers are required to remember a whole set of rules on how to drive properly when they approach a pedestrian crosswalk. That is why pedestrians do not have to take special training courses and take an examination for knowledge of traffic rules. The actions of pedestrians during the road crossing are often governed by their intuition, experience, and instinct of self-preservation, and in the event of a car accident, they are extremely unlikely to be found guilty (James 399). This is due to the fact that passengers have a minimum of duties to drivers and their purpose is primarily to monitor their own safety. Of course, if a passenger rudely violates the laws of the road, for example, running across the highway or crossing the street to red light, the responsibility for his life will most likely be borne by the pedestrian and not by the driver. However, in all other cases, the life of the pedestrian is entirely the driver’s responsibility. Boeschen clarifies this situation writing that “for example, if a driver is going the speed limit through a commercial district and a pedestrian runs out from behind a parked car just a few feet in front of the driver’s car, the driver will not be held liable” (Boeschen). This is logical from the point of view that each driver has the right to drive a car only in the case of knowledge of all traffic rules, including duties for pedestrians. If there is a car accident as a result of which a pedestrian has been injured, the driver is most likely to be guilty, since, in the case of compliance with the rules, this would most likely not have happened.
The right-of-way for drivers and passengers is an excellent model for analyzing the topic of this work. The right of way for both drivers and pedestrians is a set of rules about who and when should yield the way and under what circumstances. Considering the rights of pedestrians, it is worth noting that they enjoy the right of way if they are already at a crosswalk. In this case, any car passing by should stop to yield them. Nevertheless, while the pedestrian is still on the sidewalk, he or she must wait for the right moment when crossing the road will be safe. Thanks to traffic signals, road users are much easier to monitor the situation, but they are not installed everywhere, so there is a need to know and comply with the laws governing the right of way. Another essential problem remains the difference in traffic rules in different states of the country, which creates a lot of inconvenience for travelers and visitors. For example, in Oregon, many signs have a mark that allows a turn in a certain direction without stopping, which means that many drivers perceive the stop sign as a yield sign (Collins). Such a law poses a threat to potential pedestrians who cross the road parallel to the car that turns. Therefore, in all other states, each driver should stop before turning at an intersection or on a turn where there is a pedestrian crossing to avoid a collision. The central principle of the right of way is yielding in every possible case to ensure maximum safety of pedestrians.
Another reason why traffic laws are designed to maximize the protection of pedestrians is that in most cases it is the car that poses a threat to the life of a pedestrian, and not vice versa and it is the driver who is responsible for the preservation of pedestrian’s life. Of course, pedestrians quite often create emergency situations, running across roads in inappropriate places or simply not paying attention to traffic. As a result, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), more than five thousand pedestrians were killed and 76,000 injured in car accidents in 2015 (“Pedestrian Safety”). At the same time, when confronted with a pedestrian, drivers almost never receive significant injury. Despite the fact that drivers are not always able to prevent a collision, in many cases only their reaction can save a person’s life. Nowadays, there is also a factor of social and technological distraction: many pedestrians are talking on a mobile phone or listening to music crossing the road, which significantly increases the risk of a car accident. However, drivers are susceptible to the same flaws, which suggests that the long list of laws governing the behavior of drivers regarding pedestrians is more than fair. It is worth taking into account that the braking distance of the car for the current level of technology reaches several meters at high speed, which makes the skill of drivers critical to the safety of pedestrians.
Thus, it can be concluded that the US traffic laws are pedestrian-oriented and there is a number of reasons for this. The first and key reason is a person’s physical vulnerability to a vehicle, which means a real threat to the life of a pedestrian with participation in traffic. That is why the main task of both driver and pedestrian is to ensure the safety of the latter. On this basis, drivers have much more responsibilities to pedestrians than pedestrians to drivers. Nevertheless, the rights of a pedestrian are also limited. The driver must give way to the pedestrian when he or she is already at a crosswalk or when a stop signal is present, but the driver should not stop if the pedestrian is on the sidewalk. Besides, a pedestrian can cross the road only when making sure that it is safe and the green light is on. However, nine drivers out of ten will be blamed for the death or trauma of a pedestrian, which is the result of the pedestrian-oriented traffic laws. The great difficulty is the difference existing in the rules of the road traffic among different states of the country. The rules of the right of way are regulated individually in different parts of the country, which makes driving and road crossing difficult for visitors and is often the cause of car accidents. Despite all the laws regulating the behavior of drivers, the number of victims among pedestrians is growing every year, which indicates the need for pedestrian-oriented traffic laws and the introduction of certain reforms in existing regulations. Of course, the responsibility for the lives of pedestrians should lie on the drivers, since it is they who pose a threat to their lives and must know all the laws concerning interaction with passengers. However, at the same time, pedestrians should also exercise more caution and vigilance when crossing the road.
Boeschen, Coulter. “Is The Driver Always At Fault In A Pedestrian Vs. Car Accident?.” AllLaw.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Dec. 2017.
Collins, Brian. “How Different Are The Driving Laws In Each State Of The U.S.?.” Quora.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Dec. 2017.
James, Leon. “Drivers Against Pedestrians: How To Assess And Change Attitudes.” International Journal of Scientific Research 3.8 (2012): 399-401. Web.
“Pedestrian Safety.” NHTSA. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Dec. 2017.
Sucha, Matus, Daniel Dostal, and Ralf Risser. “Pedestrian-Driver Communication And Decision Strategies At Marked Crossings.” Accident Analysis & Prevention 102 (2017): 41-50. Web.
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