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Deter jaywalking with shock photos

By Liang Yuchen (Shanghai Daily)

15:00, June 09, 2013

CAMERAS in hand, sweat rolling down their cheeks -what were my teachers doing under the scorching Singaporean sun every afternoon?

They were not waiting for alumni or inspectors from the Ministry of Education but for jaywalkers. Jaywalking has been a serious problem in many Singaporean high schools. Teachers and school administrators go to great lengths, even monitoring streets, to curb this perceived "juvenile delinquency."

It is considered a youth problem because adults in Singapore seldom jaywalk. The situation here in China is quite different.

Chinese jaywalkers cross the roads whichever way they like, like teenagers who have little experience in road safety. They are teenagers to the motorways in some sense.

Indeed, many Chinese people are not used to motorized roads. Until 20 years ago, bicycles and pedestrians were the main users of city roads. In the rural areas where many highways were built in the last decade, people are also not familiar with heavy vehicle traffic. This might explain in part why some people would cut through lanes of moving vehicles to get to the other side.

However, a recent viral video on Chinese weibo reveals a fundamental cause of reckless jaywalking.

Shenzhen police recently conducted an anti-jaywalking campaign by photographing jaywalkers and posting the videos on weibo.

One of the officers shot film of a jaywalker and asked her not to do it again. The girl's reply was hilarious and shocking. "People like me," she said, "do not adhere to traffic rules. We are not good citizens so it's better for us to get killed by cars."

The police officer was speechless but we should not be. That girl in the video regarded road safety and even death as a light matter. If a car were really heading towards her, I don't think she would take it so lightly. Hence, one fundamental cause for jaywalking is probably the aforementioned "teenager mindset."

How can we grow up?

During the first 10 months of last year, 2.6 Chinese pedestrians died every day when crossing against red lights, and 86 died after climbing separation barriers.

To alter our "teenager mindset," education is at least as important as experiences. We are doing it but this is only remotely effective. Slogans and campaigns hardly ever work for adults and teenagers alike. We can show real-life stories or even real-life accident footage.

I was shown a watered-down version in middle school and it was still shocking. We might use similar but less gruesome footage to make people aware of the danger of approaching vehicles.

The author is a Singapore-educated freelancer from Jiangsu Province.

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