Monday, September 11, 2006

Jaywalking in Oz.

Jaywalking can kill you.

I must confess that I am guilty of occasional jaywalking when living in foreign lands. In many countries it is not a crime and many people do it and no one cares. You join the crowds bolting across the street and do as they do. Heck, some roads do not have pedestrian crossings for a kilometer or two, so what are you going to do? When in Rome, you jaywalk if Romans jaywalk.

There is a hidden danger, though if it becomes a habit. If you visit a country where traffic direction is the opposite of what you are used to, you may get hit by a passing vehicle because you will be looking in the wrong direction to check if one is coming. After having jaywalked in the countries of the Persian Gulf (along with millions of workers from the Indian Subcontinent) I forgot that it was not really a good thing to do and tried to do so in Australia. I looked to my left (as I would in the Gulf) and, having ascertained that there was no traffic coming my way, I was about to take the first step only to miss a bus that was coming from my right at a breakneck speed.

You see, I forgot that Australians drive on the left side of the road. And the huge bus missed me by about a foot. Had I taken the step, I would not have been writing this article now.

If you get used to loose regulations in many Third World countries regarding jaywalking, please be careful when you go to other countries, Third-or Second World or, whatever, where traffic moves in the other direction. You need to keep in mind that now you have to be looking to your right, not to your left. Better yet, do not jaywalk. The cops can give you a ticket or, in worse cases, doing so can cause serious injuries or death.

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