The plight of pedestrians crossing the road

| 24/05/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusGiven recent tragic accidents there has been a lot of discussion about safety for pedestrians. Given that, I’d like to ask about the legality of the Caymankind habit of “beckoning”. At first glance, the kind gesture of a driver to slow down or stop, flick their lights and motion with their hand from the window to allow a pedestrian to cross the road would seem friendly. But in reality, in many cases that driver is putting themselves, the pedestrian and other vehicles on the road in grave danger.

I regularly cross one of our busy bypasses, near a roundabout, as a pedestrian. I am shocked at the frequency of a driver in one lane stopping and beckoning for me to cross, without checking behind them or taking note of the traffic in the other lane. I’m not going to engage in a game of Frogger, when I can easily wait for the eventual break in the traffic flow that allows me to cross safely.

It would be fantastic if the drivers all just checked their rearview and side mirrors before making an attempt to beckon me across. More often than not, I wave them along, trying to convey polite thanks for the gesture, but with a message of “Please let me make the decision when to cross, not you.” I’m often met with looks of shock, anger and dismay that I haven’t appreciated what they feel is a kind gesture. I have to ask, if the driver beckons you, you cross and an accident ensues, who would be to blame?

Auntie’s answer: I thought it best to seek the opinion of the RCIPS on this issue, though I will say that it makes me nervous every time I see a pedestrian crossing the road near or by a roundabout.

I realise that a person walking down the road doesn’t always have an option when it comes to dealing with roundabouts but the deadly accident last month that you referred to at the roundabout by Yacht Drive sadly reinforces my concern.

As for the aforementioned Caymankind practice of “beckoning” and stopping to let a pedestrian cross, an RCIPS spokesperson said, “It is not advised that motorists stop on a roundabout or on the exit of a roundabout for any reason whatsoever as this is dangerous with motorists coming from several different directions at once. That being said, it is also not advised that a pedestrian try to cross at a roundabout or at the exit of a roundabout.”

That makes sense to me.

The spokesperson added, “The roadway is a shared space and all persons — whether motorists, pedestrians or cyclists — have a part to play in ensuring their safety and the safety of others using the road.” That advice also seems logical, but the reader specifically asked about liability.

The spokesperson explained that it is “not the job of the police to say who is at fault in any motor vehicle collision”, pointing out that the “onus is on the driver” to ensure he or she is driving at a safe speed and distance from the car ahead, so if a sudden stop is required it won’t cause a collision. “It is also the duty of drivers to ensure that if they are stopping in the roadway to let a pedestrian cross, that the driver behind them has adequate time to stop.”

If an accident did occur under the scenario you describe, the spokesperson said, “All parties would have played a part in such an accident, including the pedestrian attempting to cross the street in an area where there is no pedestrian crossing or crosswalk sign.”

On a related point, anyone who has walked down Crewe Road, with its narrow lanes and lack of sidewalks, knows how unsafe it is for pedestrians. And that is only one road of many.

I think the answer going forward is to ensure all new roads are pedestrian-friendly and, where feasible, to modify and improve existing roads. Whether that will ever happen is anyone’s guess.

Category: Ask Auntie, Traffic Questions

Comments (23)

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  1. nauticalone says:

    Add to this the habit by some of stopping mid corner and beckoning others to cross (when unable to see as we’re mid corner). Sometimes to chat with a friend, catch crabs or whatever) and then I’ve even seen Police cross by such situations…and do nothing! ??

  2. Anonymous says:

    Then please, PLEASE stop painting pedestrian crossings at exits of roundabouts! Cannot think of a dumber place to put them ….

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh thank you for this as I totally agree. The recent idiotic action of vehicles stopping and putting on there Hazard Lights to allow someone to cross a road is an accident waiting to happen. If the vehicle in front of me put these on it means he has broken down and I am going to go around them. Just because 1 driver thinks they can let someone cross the road it doesn’t mean the driver coming the opposite direction is going to stop either.

  4. Anonymous says:

    when was learning to drive I was told if there is a person on the road (as in already on or in the middle of the road) then the car must stop to let them cross safely…

    • Anonymous says:

      Whilst you shouldn’t try to mow them down, pedestrians don’t have a right of way. There are a couple of exceptions, one is if they have started crossing a side road and you are turning in from a main road, pedestrians have right of way and you should stop. In general if pedestrians have followed the rules of only crossing when there is enough time you shouldn’t encounter them mid street.

    • Anonymous says:

      The curb or median is not part of the road surface.

  5. Anon says:

    Well, in that case I would suggest you make your way to a designated crossing and not stand waiting for traffic to ease or stop!

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no designated crossing zones on the ETH. Zero. Writer wasn’t suggesting there should be either. No need for vehicles to stop when it’s clear behind them – just continue and leave the area!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The commenter is specifically talking about negligent pedestrian assurances from beckoning drivers who implicitly omit or discount material safety factors (with or without malicious intent). Those drivers that commonly stop to lure pedestrians into mortal situations, ought to be subject to criminal prosecution under the Penal Code (2017):

    §180. (1) A person who, by an unlawful act or omission, causes the death of another person commits the offence of manslaughter.
    (2) An unlawful omission is an omission amounting to culpable negligence to discharge a duty tending to the preservation of life or health, whether such omission is or is not accompanied by an intention to cause death or bodily harm.

    §183. A person who commits the offence of manslaughter is liable to imprisonment for life.

    §184. Malice aforethought, which may be express or implied from the conduct of a person charged, shall be deemed to be established by evidence proving either of the following circumstances –
    (a) an intention to cause the death of or to do grievous bodily harm to any person, whether such person is the person actually killed or not; or
    (b) knowledge that the act or omission causing death will probably cause the death of or grievous bodily harm to some person, whether or not such person is the person actually killed, although such knowledge is accompanied by indifference whether death or grievous bodily harm is caused or not, or by a wish that it may not be caused.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I never could understand why anyone would cross at a roundabout. That is the most dangerous place to cross!!
    And yes, you are playing Frogger when you try crossing at a roundabout.
    Many drivers don’t even know how a roundabout works making it even more dangerous.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is when (our many unlicensed) drivers stop on a multi-lane hwy and falsely insist that it’s safe to cross when they can’t speak for (or control) the adjacent lanes of traffic. The stopped vehicle obscures the line of sight between pedestrian and possible inbound adjacent lane traffic, when it should have just continued and cleared the area. That confusion and false assurance is when accidents happen. It’s not limited to stopping for pedestrians either. Some have no qualms about stopping a half mile of traffic, on a busy hwy, just to let in a comrade with no legal right of way. For case studies, refer to ETH at Lakeside, N. Sound at Seymour, and Eastern Ave at Eclipse/School.

      • Anonymous says:

        The comment you are referring to still stands.
        ..’roundabout. That is the most dangerous place to cross!!’

        • Anonymous says:

          If not at a roundabout, then where would it please you for, say, dismounted cyclists to cross? If there are no vehicles in the area, and everyone is being observant with clean lines of sight, there is no danger of impact. The danger, in the writer’s context, is introduced when lone vehicles stop randomly and beckon pedestrians, while blocking their line of sight. It’s the presence of other moving vehicles (unaware of the obscured pedestrian situation) that makes the situation much more dangerous, not necessarily the inherent shape or layout of the asphalt.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a dangerous practice that cars stop in traffic anywhere to let someone across the road unless it is at a crossing. I know they have the best in mind but the drivers behind them have no idea what they are doing and might not see the person as they try to avoid the car.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The spokesperson explained that it is “not the job of the police to say who is at fault in any motor vehicle collision”

    Can someone explain this to me?? Whose job is it then?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, we need to understand that our Keystone Cop hasn’t read or understood the Traffic Law, let alone the Penal Code, or any other law of the land (and there are many). They have no legal background. Some never finished high school. There is a very short list of clear well-trod infractions they understand – vastly shorter than those that actually exist. For best results – know, and cite the infractions when calling the police dispatch to make a report. Know that trailblazing into new enforcement territory is not their forté – and some will actually admit that over the phone.

    • Anonymous says:

      @at 8:06 am
      The police report plays a key role in helping figure out what happened. A judge or a jury will make the determination who caused the accident.
      Does the police officer’s conclusion as to who was at fault matter in a civil trial? It really does not. Insurance companies are not bound by the police officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault for the accident. They get it wrong all of the time because they do not have all of the facts and evidence at the scene to make the call.
      A jury is not going to be told of the officer’s conclusion as to fault.
      If it is an injury claim, very little attention is paid to the police officer’s conclusion and focus is on what can be proved.
      In property damage cases, the insurance company is going to put a lot of stock in what the police say because it is a shorthand way of determining liability.
      Summary: The police make the determination based on what they think happen. Different officers have different views on how much evidence they need to draw a conclusion. A court is going to take all of the evidence and assess the credibility of the witnesses and draw a conclusion. In a straight he said/she said case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to make the more convincing case. The plaintiff has to get the judge or jury to believe there is a 51% chance their version is correct and the defendant is liable for the crash.

    • Tim says:

      Police are law enforcements to ensure people are obey the laws. It is up to the Judge or jury to decide who fault is.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Many pedestrians also don’t know how to use a crossing. Many will simply step into the crossing and expect traffic to stop!

    • Anonymous says:

      The traffic should stop!!! Pedestrians have the right of way at every zebra crossing and at EVERY stop sign. Double white lines mean STOP – it’s an international sign – but drivers here don’t think they should have to stop for any pedestrians.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are completely wrong. Pedestrians do not invoke the right of way by stepping on to a crossing, they are supposed to wait until a vehicle stops and once they are on the crossing then they have the right of way. You are also wrong about the stop signs, these are for vehicular traffic they are not automatically pedestrian crossings.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sad that this correct comment was repeatedly down-voted. Says a lot about Cayman drivers.

        Yes, Zebra crossings are marked pedestrian crossings. Of course pedestrians have a right of way. That does not mean that they should proceed without looking for a break in traffic. But drivers have an obligation to come to a stop.

        Stop signs and painted double white lines are both instructions for vehicles to come to a complete stop. That does not mean a quick glance for traffic and a roll through the intersection is ok as I have seen numerous times where Hirst Rd and Shamrock Rd intersect.

        And generally there is an implied pedestrian crossing at every road intersection. And perhaps that is why the NRA shows pedestrian crossing instructions in their brochure about use of roundabouts. See

        • Anonymous says:

          It is down voted because it is wrong. Pedestrian DO NOT have the right of way until the vehicle stops and they proceed on to the crossing. Pedestrians must WAIT until the traffic has stopped before entering the crossing. Anything else is just stupidly dangerous. I would like to see your stop sign and ‘implied’ pedestrian crossing at a four way stop which is so very obviously designed for vehicular traffic.