The fact that children are using the crossing doesn’t seem to register to all three of these drivers.

The zebra crossing was one of my favorite parts of traffic safety lessons, because it was the only traffic feature named after a cute animal. Those striped pedestrian crossings have an inherent charm, too: in many parts of the world they provide a little extra help to pedestrians, due to rules that all automobiles have to stop if someone is waiting to cross.

Not all pedestrian crossings operate in this manner. It would be difficult to enforce in many cases, especially ones where there are traffic signals, like at the Shibuya scramble. Still, slowing down and giving way to people at crossings without traffic signals seems like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? When driving a big metal machine that can race multiple tens of miles per hour, why not stop the couple of moments it takes to let your fellow humans get on their way?

Well, this actually isn’t how pedestrian crossings are treated in Japan. When traveling by foot, Japanese people tend to be tremendously wary of these crossings — the given assumption is that drivers will whoosh past at top speed, regardless of whoever’s standing on the sidewalk. Twitter user @Okityune_sama, an avid motorbike enthusiast, shared some of his dash cam footage when waiting at one of these pedestrian crossings — and gave his followers some food for thought.

(translation below)

“Some people think so long as they sound their car horn, the rules of the roads will bend to suit them!
People, be kind to other people.
Be kind to yourselves.”

In the short video, @Okityune_sama pulls up to the pedestrian crossing where a woman and two young children are attempting to cross.
Even as he’s slowing to a stop, another motorbike rider speeds past the crossing — and as a car horn rings out, a second rider follows suit! Then a minivan completes the trio of drivers who clearly had somewhere much more important to be than waiting for a family to cross the road.

Once the woman and the two children finally get to cross, the woman raises her hand up, in the same way children are taught to when crossing in Japan to make themselves more visible to drivers. She gives @Okityune_sama a grateful nod before finally reaching the other side of the road.

The tweet hit close to home for drivers and pedestrians alike, and racked up a considerable amount of retweets and likes. @Okityune_sama was also surprised by the video’s reach, and posted this message after it went viral:

“Wow, this took off. I’ve never gone viral before, so this was quite a shock.
I don’t claim to be a perfect driver myself, but I do think that if we were all to allow enough lee-way for other people’s feelings and try to compromise a bit more, it might make public roads safer places to run on.
This has been your public announcement in honor of making Ibaraki’s roads a little bit safer.”

One of the first replies to the video was the most succinct and damning:

“If a person is waiting to cross at a pedestrian crossing, you must bring your vehicle to a stop. You must not prevent pedestrians from crossing.”

It’s true that Japan’s road rules state you must stop at pedestrian crossings if there are people attempting to cross. Several commenters expressed particular irritation at this flouting of the rules, and in this case the horn-honking as well, stating “I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool if I’d been there” or “Is it even legal to abuse your car horn like that?”. Others wondered where the police were, while several recommended that @Okityune_sama take the video to the police. After all, those license plates were pretty easy to read in the video…

Between this and the reverse-tailgater from last month, it’s a good time to brush up on your road safetyespecially if you’re the one driving. Like @Okityune_sama said, we should be kind to other people…and kind to ourselves, too. Make sure to take extra care when trying to cross the road in Japan!

Source: Twitter/@Okityune_sama via Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso

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