Pedestrians to get right of way on Czech roads

Unlike the member states of the European Union, and many other countries, pedestrians don't have priority on pedestrian crossings in the Czech Republic. But a law passed by the lower house of parliament on Thursday aims to change all that. If the law is approved by the Senate, then as of January 1st 2001, Czech drivers will be obliged to stop at pedestrian crossings. Nick Carey has the story.

It is a very common complaint in the Czech Republic that drivers don't stop at pedestrian crossings. The reason is simple: they are not obliged to do so by law. The new law passed by the lower house on Thursday is meant to bring Czech traffic legislation in line with EU norms. According to the law, as of the beginning of 2001, if a pedestrian stands at a crossing and clearly indicates that they wish to cross the road, drivers will have to stop. Which, as I found out earlier this morning, is not the case now: The use of mobile phones, by the way, will also be banned by the new law. Although most people didn't stop on my first attempt, I reluctantly decided to give Czech drivers another chance: I tried crossing a few more times, but with the same result, with many cars actually speeding up instead of slowing down. Some experts in the Czech Republic believe that changing the right of way will dramatically increase the number of accidents on the roads involving pedestrians. Considering that the Czech Republic has one of the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in Europe, there are others who claim that the Czechs are well trained in trying to avoid speeding cars. From my own experience, especially when writing this report, if we pedestrians get the right of way, it will at least give us a fighting chance.