The Ministry of Transportation and Communications on June 30 implemented regulations stipulating that drivers could be fined NT$6,000 if they do not yield to pedestrians. The new rules have been enforced effectively, and gradually, Taiwan is leaving behind the notorious reputation of being “a hell for pedestrians.”
However, rules should be reasonably implemented. Recently, in a dashcam video posted on YouTube, a driver passed through an intersection, while a pedestrian was crossing the street even though the light was red. Fortunately, although the driver, who had a green light, did not stop, the pedestrian was not hit. Nevertheless, the driver was reported and fined NT$6,000.
When drivers pass through intersections, sometimes pedestrians suddenly appear and run across the road. On such occasions, if no immediate action is taken to avoid a collision, should the drivers keep driving or slam on the brakes? Most people would keep driving.
Stopping a car abruptly might be even more dangerous, as it might lead to a multiple-vehicle pileup. Yet, when law enforcement receive reports of such incidents, the driver would still be fined NT$6,000. Of course, the driver could appeal the citation, and if that is rejected, they could file a lawsuit, but the process would be time-consuming and exhausting, and could cause the driver even more stress. The price they end up paying might be greater than their financial loss.
Drivers should abide by the law, but the bottom line is that they should obey the law and act morally. Most drivers and pedestrians are law-abiding citizens. In terms of enforcing the law, it should be carried out in conjunction with reason and compassion. The officials, drivers, pedestrians and those who report others, should act with empathy.
When pedestrians cross the road, they should refrain from using their cellphones and walk slightly faster than normal. They can nod to drivers who yield to them. This would be a friendly gesture that leads to positive vibes.
This is just like when two vehicles meet in a narrow alley. No rules have been specified which car should yield first, but both would work things out and neither would take the other’s courtesy for granted. Each driver would usually lightly honk their horn or flash their lights to indicate appreciation to the other driver. Such a small gesture is more than enough to show friendliness.
A NT$6,000 fine is far from small. Some of those who report others do so with questionable intentions, whereas some law enforcers apply traffic regulations unreasonably. The purpose of revising the traffic laws was never to create another hell for driver.
Taiwanese drivers already have to deal with a series of hazardous situations. During rush hour, a bus driver has to constantly dodge illegally parked vehicles, and if they accidentally cross the double yellow lines, it might be captured by someone’s dashcam and reported to police. When the bus finally reaches an intersection safely, it stops to wait for pedestrians to cross the road. This is the daily life for road users in Taiwan, and a hell for drivers and bus drivers.
Lin Cheng-wu is a junior-high school teacher.
Translated by Emma Liu
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