By Samuel Smith
Last updated on: February 15, 2021 at 10:50 am
Ahh, Mad March… the time of year when Adelaide’s city streets are bustling with song, dance, delicious food and, consequently, increased foot traffic.
Though our favourite festival month may look a little different in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s still set to be a busy time, especially in Adelaide’s CBD.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to respect the road rules, both in your car and on foot.
With no airbags, no helmets and unreliable collision avoidance systems, pedestrians are an incredibly vulnerable bunch. But that doesn’t stop them from flouting the law, especially in the midst of festive frivolity.
Last year alone, 1578 pedestrian offences were recorded in South Australia. Alarmingly, this figure represents an 8% increase compared to the average for 2019 (1528 offences) and 2018 (1385 offences).
All up, pavement pounders forked out $75,740 in fines during 2020 – the highest sum recorded since 2017. Unsurprisingly, most offences took place between 10am on Saturday and 1am on Sunday, with more than 70% of fines occurring in the eastern policing district which includes the CBD.
Tragically, 8 pedestrians lost their lives last year and 38 were seriously injured.
With statistics showing an increase in pedestrian offences, and Mad March on our doorstep, now’s the time to improve your safety repertoire, whether you’re on foot or behind the wheel of 2 or 4-wheeled vehicle.
Give yourself a refresher with these 5 simple tips.
1. Make the most of pedestrian crossings
This one’s simple. If you’re near a marked pedestrian crossing, use it. If the crossing’s a few metres down the road, walk a little further to get to it.
Where there’s no marked crossing, cross by the shortest possible route. Don’t be tempted to weave through traffic or cross diagonally, as it’s actually an offence to stay on the road longer than necessary. 154 wayward pedestrians were picked up for this last year alone.
Whether you’re at a designated pedestrian crossing or not, the general rule of thumb is the same: ensure you’re 100% certain the path is clear and that motorists have seen you before crossing the road. On wider roads with a median strip, consider crossing the road in 2 stages, using the median to again check for traffic.
2. Keep left
Keeping left on foot can help control pedestrian traffic and give other footpath users (including cyclists) the chance to pass if needed.
But what if there’s no footpath or an obstruction stops you in your tracks?
In situations where you need to walk on the road, walk on the right side, as close as possible to the edge. Facing oncoming traffic ensures you can see motorists coming towards you and they can see you.
3. Pay attention in car parks
Car parks are notorious for pedestrian mishaps, though according to RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure, Charles Mountain, it is possible for pedestrians and motorists to co-exist safely.
“Stick to pedestrian walkways if there are any available and be aware of your surroundings as you would be on the road,” Mr Mountain says.
“Be sure to watch for vehicles’ brake, reversing and indicator lights to help judge the direction or next move of a motorist.
“Most importantly, whether you’re behind the wheel, pedalling on your bike or navigating by foot, remember all road users have a responsibility and part to play in keeping each other safe.”
4. Don’t run reds
Picture this: you’re nearing a pedestrian crossing when the light turns from green to flashing red. Is it safe to make a run for it?
In short, no. According to the law, you mustn’t proceed until the light turns green again.
If the green light starts flashing red while you’re walking across, that’s fine. Just move as quickly as you can to the other side of the road or the nearest traffic island.
If, as a pedestrian, you’re caught disobeying a red light, you could be up for a $52 fine plus a $90 Victims of Crime Levy. You’ll also be putting yourself at risk of sustaining serious injuries.
5. Keep your wits about you
Distracted walkers are just as dangerous as distracted motorists.
Texting, answering your phone and listening to music are seemingly harmless tasks, but as a pedestrian, could put your safety at risk.
Using your phone while navigating a busy footpath or crossing the road could result in a fine for walking without due care or attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users.
Our advice? Whenever you’re pounding the pavement, stay off your phone and unplug your headphones so you’re completely aware of what’s happening around you.
You’ve no-doubt seen them zipping through the streets of Adelaide. Nimble, cheap and convenient, e-scooters have proved popular throughout the city, especially during the rush of Mad March.
One brand – Beam – has upped the ante on safety, partnering with RAA on a quiz, aiming to educate riders about road safety over the 2021 festival period.
Available via the Beam app from 19 February and running throughout March, the RAA Beam Safety Quiz involves 10 multiple-choice questions, presenting riders with tricky situations they’re likely to encounter while scooting about town. If participants answer incorrectly, relevant road rules will be explained in detail.
Thanks to RAA, Beam is offering $5 credit to every user who completes the quiz during February and March.