Police say they will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach for drivers abusing zebra crossings after a two-day campaign on Hong Kong Island saw 155 pedestrians summonsed and 207 drivers filmed breaking the law.
“Police will adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards the selfish behaviour of not yielding to pedestrians at a zebra crossing,” said a police statement.
“If the circumstances are serious and pose a danger to passers-by, police will not hesitate to arrest the driver concerned for ‘careless driving’ or ‘dangerous driving’,” a statement said.
Pedestrians in Hong Kong have right of way in any circumstances, according to the Road Users Code, but drivers must, by law, yield to pedestrians on zebra crossings, with stiff penalties for offenders caught breaking the law.
Drivers actually prosecuted face three demerit points; first offenders can also be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for three months. But only 568 drivers were prosecuted for this offence in 2021, according to police figures.
The two-day sting this month was the first time a traditional pedestrian safety operation had caught drivers as well as pedestrians, marking a potential shift in police attitude towards zebra crossing safety.
Hong Kong’s “pedestrian safety” campaigns usually target only pedestrians, with cops prosecuting 8,814 people for “jaywalking” in 2021, eight times the number prosecuted for dangerous driving.
Observers say the new approach may in part be triggered by the new wave of high-definition dashcam videos (for example below) showing motor vehicles ploughing through occupied zebra crossings with alarming regularity, even where pedestrians are strictly obeying all rules, guidelines and laws.
But police are also becoming more adept at using mobile video units to secure prosecutions, part of a new “e-Enforcement” regime police hope to bring into law next year.