Essay on Drivers vs. Pedestrians: Who Feels More Secure With the US Driving Laws?

The equality of rights of drivers and foot passengers has provoked many disagreements and discussions since long ago. However, the elaboration of the USA driving laws considers the safety of both parties, that’s why the rights of drivers and pedestrians can be regarded equal. In view of this, it is assumed that mostly they have the same amount of preferences and restrictions depending on the situation. The behavior of pedestrians and drivers on the road is regulated by the right of way. Anyway, considering that the foot passengers are much more vulnerable and less protected than vehicles in the event of a road accident, it can be resumed that the traffic rules pay more attention to the safety of the foot-passengers. As a result, pedestrians have special privileges in the crossing. On the other hand, if the pedestrian is still on the foot-walk, the driver appears to have more rights. Thus, it is not so easy to evaluate the equality of traffic rights for pedestrians and drivers, since there is a very fine line between their privileges depending on the situation. However, as far as driving laws are meant to protect the human lives and the pedestrians can more probably be physically injured comparing to drivers in the accidents, it can therefore be concluded that the pedestrians are less constrained by the traffic laws of the USA.

Though it may seem that the rights of all traffic participants are equal, drivers are more restricted in their behavior in fact. The main responsibility of a pedestrian is just to be careful on the road. By comparison, a driver should know and follow the traffic regulations on the road and before pedestrian crossings. Drivers should take special training and pass driving tests. Pedestrians usually cross the road instinctively according to their experience, and if the car accident occurs, they are rarely considered guilty. The reason for this is that in general foot-passengers should only take care of their safety and have just few responsibilities on the road. Certainly, the safety of a passenger’s life is up to him in cases of serious breach of the traffic law, for example, running or crossing the highway to red light. Despite this, the life of the foot-passenger mostly depends on the driver. According to Boeschen, a driver will not be responsible for an accident, in case if he exceeds the speed limit in a commercial area and a pedestrian suddenly appears in front of the driver’s car from over a parked vehicle. This should be the case, considering that a driver receives a driving license only if he knows traffic rules and his rights and responsibilities on the road. Then if a pedestrian is injured in the result of a car accident, it is the driver who is considered to be guilty in most cases. It is assumed that if he follows the traffic rules it is unlikely to have happened.

The right of way fits best to investigate the topic of this work. The mentioned right determines the rules and situations according to which a driver and a pedestrian should give way to each other. According to the rights of foot passengers, they have a privilege of way if they have already stepped a crosswalk. All the passing cars should stop to give way in this case. However, the pedestrians should stand and monitor for the safe moment to cross the road, if they are on the sidewalk. Traffic signs can help traffic participants a lot, but since there are places not supplied with signals, it is important to know and observe the laws for the right of way. Nevertheless, this doesn’t solve the problem in full, as far as the traffic rules of the US states differ and thus confuse travelers and visitors. E.g., in Oregon State there are a lot of signs with marking by which you can turn without stopping. As a result, many drivers yield the way on the stop sign (by Collins). Such situations are very dangerous in case if a pedestrian step across a road when the car turns. Considering this, in order to prevent road accidents, the drivers should stop before they turn at intersections with crosswalks by the law of the other states. Basically it means that cars should give way any time, if possible, to avoid pedestrian injuring.

There is another factor that contributes to the development of traffic laws centered on pedestrian protection. It is usually the car that potentially threatens the human life on the road, and therefore the driver is the one, who have to ensure the safety of pedestrians. As a matter of fact, there are pedestrians who provoke accidents on the road very often, as they can cross the road in forbidden places, neglect traffic signs and behave carelessly on the highway. This results in car accidents with, according to statistics of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) for 2015 in “Pedestrian Safety”, more than 5,000 foot-passengers killed and 76,000 injured. On the other hand, it is usually a pedestrian who suffers an injury in a traffic collision, and not a driver. Drivers are not able to prevent an accident sometimes; nevertheless, their proper and immediate actions can often save pedestrian’s life. The vastly developing information technologies have captured the attention of people everywhere. As a result, many pedestrians are distracted by their mobile phones or listen to music while crossing the road, and thus potentially create emergency situations. It should be noted, however, that drivers might be distracted to the same activities while driving the car and a large regulatory basis for them serves the right purpose in this case. In addition, good driving skills are of a crucial importance for the drivers nowadays, considering the significantly shortened braking path for the cars moving at high speed due to modern technologies.

Therefore, there are a number of factors indicating that the US driving laws are primarily concentrated on pedestrians. The major reason for this derives from the fact that a vehicle poses a serious threat to the life of a pedestrian who is physically more vulnerable as a traffic participant. It means that both parties should take care of pedestrian safety. That is why the range of driver’s responsibilities is far wider than those of a pedestrian. However, a foot-passenger is also restricted in his/her rights. The driver should yield the way to the foot-passenger at a crosswalk or by a stop signal, but this rule is not applied to the pedestrians on the foot-walk. Furthermore, a pedestrian should monitor the situation and can step across a road only on the green. Despite all this, 90% of drivers are considered guilty of the accident because of the traffic laws aimed at pedestrian safety. The problem of different traffic rules across the country is still no less important. Each US state has its own traffic regulations that causes difficulties to visitors and provokes car accidents. Although there are a lot of laws the drivers should follow, the number of pedestrians affected in car accidents is increasing every year. It means that pedestrian-centered traffic laws are of great importance and the existing regulations should be amended. As noted above, it is a driver who should be very skilled, know traffic rules very well and be responsible for the safety on the road, since it is a vehicle that endangers a pedestrian’s life. That being said, the duty of pedestrians, for their parts, is to stay careful when passing the road.

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