Law and Enforcement

POLICE IDLE AS VAN PLOUGHS INTO PEDESTRIAN CROSSING

Angry pedestrians demanded police take action against the driver of this Mercedes van, who ploughed through a busy Central pedestrian crossing. Police gave the driver “advice”.

Two police officers stood by as a luxury black Mercedes van ploughed through a red light and into a busy Central pedestrian crossing yesterday, failing to take any action as the driver spilled shoppers and commuters out of his way before eventually coming to a halt in front of two heroic passersby who refused to yield.

Video footage shows two officers standing on the Theatre Lane roadside as the van eventually slows through the shouting crowd. When the two men who stopped the van demanded police take some action, officers spoke briefly with the driver. Police checked no documents or licences, according to eyewitnesses at the scene. Police then said they had given the driver “advice” and let him go.

Witnesses were furious with police inaction, cajoling the officers and shouting in Cantonese. “The van shouldn’t keep driving through the crowd like that,” said one man who witnessed the incident.

One of the officers said the pedestrian crossing was difficult for cars to navigate safely, but would not elaborate.

Last month police blamed poor road design for the frequent blockage of the nearby Pedder Street crossing, just 50 metres upstream of the Theatre Lane crossing.  Transport Department, in turn, said it had requested police to step up illegal parking enforcement at the location, although at the time of the incident, even with police presence, the road ahead of the crossing was blocked by illegal double parking of chauffeur vans, cars and trucks.

In the first six months of the year, police summonsed 1,303 pedestrians for jaywalking offences, while charging only 227 drivers for failing to give precedence to pedestrians on a zebra crossing (168 charged) or blocking a yellow stripe crossing (59 charged). Police gave 14,169 verbal warnings to drivers during that period, against only 365 verbal warnings to pedestrians, showing pedestrians are more often charged than warned.

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