Personnel from the Road Safety Department, Road Transport Department, Kota Baru police headquarters and Kota Baru Municipal Council running a campaign to raise awareness on the use of zebra crossings during the United Nations Global Road Safety Week last year.

Summonses should be issued and points deducted if drivers do not give right of way to pedestrians at zebra crossings, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said.

Each year, pedestrian fatalities average more than 500 deaths each year.

Statistics show that the proportion of fatal road traffic injuries involving pedestrians among the elderly are on the rise. In 2006, it was 24.4 per cent but this increased to 44.2 per cent in 2013.

Miros has also recommended the need to equip zebra crossings with a traffic signal to ensure that vehicles stop for pedestrians by law, as most drivers do not stop at unsignalised zebra crossings.

“Miros has conducted an observation on pedestrians and drivers’ behaviour at the signalised and unsignalised zebra crossing. Findings from the observation found that around 74 per cent of drivers do not give way to pedestrians at zebra crossing, especially at unsignalised junctions,” Bernama reported Lee as saying earlier this week.

“For signalised junctions, only 8.2 per cent of them disobeyed the traffic rules (run red light) at zebra crossings. Meanwhile, 95.4 per cent of pedestrians used the ‘crosswalk’ in a proper way at unsignalised junctions and 83.1 per cent at signalised junctions.”

But, Lee said, what was even more alarming was that 8.3 per cent of the drivers were observed using their mobile phone while driving at zebra crossings.

He added that it was not just the drivers that were distracted as a worrying 6.8 per cent of pedestrians were also found to be using their phones while walking on the zebra crossings at unsignalised junction. For signalised junctions, 5.1 per cent were found to be using their phones.

Lee said a study conducted in a local university campus also found that drivers had low willingness to stop at pedestrian crossings.

“Pedestrians may get a chance to cross if the vehicles are moving in groups,” Lee said.

He added that the situation might be due to the misunderstanding on the rule of the right of way at the unsignalised pedestrian crossings.

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