If you get around town through the power of your own two feet, you might think you are safe from any type of traffic violations and subsequent crimes.
When there you are tasked with crossing an empty street, you might think that you are free to cross with not a care in the world, but the truth is quite different.
Even when no vehicles are on the road, if you are caught crossing the street at an undesignated area, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a nasty fine.
In recent years, police crackdowns on jaywalking in high-risk areas have seen thousands of Australian pedestrians receive fines up to $70 on the spot. The majority of fines have taken place in Sydney and Melbourne and the aim of the increased fines has been to try to reduce the occurrences of pedestrian deaths and injuries.
So what is and what is not considered a jaywalking pedestrian offense in Australia? Keep reading to find out.
Pedestrian deaths in Australia
If you think a fine is a bit drastic, you might want to learn a bit about the statistics related to pedestrian deaths in Australia.
Based on a study by the Government of South Australia, 1 in 7 road deaths from 2012 to 2016 involved a pedestrian.
In addition to fatalities during that span of time, there is an average of 68 pedestrians who are seriously injured and 241 pedestrians who received minor injures on South Australian roads.
In the following two years, pedestrian deaths increased all over the continent.
10 pedestrian deaths in 2017 in Victoria increased to 12 in 2018. 6 deaths in Queensland nearly doubled to 11. 17 deaths in 2017 in New South Wales grew to 29 in 2018.
From these numbers alone it is clear that increased regulations could certainly help to reduce the risk of pedestrian death and injury due to careless jaywalking.
The laws of jaywalking
In truth, there is not a specific jaywalking offence in Australian law. Instead, it is simply the most common term to describe a pedestrian offence that takes place when a pedestrian crosses a road illegally.
Pedestrian laws and related fines vary depending on the state or territory in which an offense takes place. Related fines also vary by council area.
Much like other jaywalking laws wherever they exist, the rules are typically not strictly enforced. That is especially true when compared to other traffic violations such as speeding fines and red light cameras.
More often than not, for a pedestrian to receive a traffic infraction, they will have to be seen clearly disregarding traffic laws and road rules as well as recklessly putting themselves or nearby drivers in danger.
What behavior can earn you a fine?
If you are regularly crossing the streets on your way to work, you may be wondering what type of behavior could earn you a costly fine.
Here are some of the most common causes:
- You cross the road by ignoring red or “stop” pedestrian lights
- Your cross the road diagonally where you are not permitted to do so by the traffic laws
- You cross the road on a green light
- You don’t use the striped crossing within 20 metres of your location
- You walk in the middle of a breakdown lane
If there are no pedestrian signs, lights, crossings, or signals where you are, it is your duty as a pedestrian to take the shortest and safest route to cross the road.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is actually not a legal offence to cross the road while using your phone, listening to music, or text on your phone when you are crossing the road unless it is possible for police to prove that you caused an accident or traffic hazard by doing so.
One nice thing if you do decide to take the risk and jaywalk is that there is no legal penalty for jaywalking.
In the end, it is important to remember that these rules are not only enforced to keep you safe, but to keep the drivers on the road safe as well.
It’s all about public safety and it’s important to remember that the next time you consider putting yourself or other drivers in danger by crossing the street.
So, the next time you are thinking about outrunning traffic and making a fast dash across the road, think about what your actions could cause to your own safety and you bank account!