After driving on the road for a few months now, I have come to a realisation that while the government puts people through tests to make sure they master the basics of driving before getting on the road, they definitely never thought of doing the same to pedestrians. Perhaps it is assumed that these things are common sense, but after coming into near misses with stupid pedestrians who constantly test my reaction time + how good my brakes are, I realised that for people to be born with common sense is yet another assumption one should throw out of the window.
I remember when i was 7, the school brought us on a trip to the Road Safety Park. Situated somewhere in the east, it was a huge park made up of fake houses, roads and street signs like real life. we drew lots and i became a pedestrian, much to my disgust as I wanted to be one of the special children who got to drive “cars” around. any idiot could cross a road. So we were taught how to watch out for the light to change, to look right before we crossed, and to raise our hands as we cross so that drivers could see us better (considering we were little kids and no more than waist high). There were wardens stationed around to make sure we followed the rules and we all had a score card each. The kids who followed the rules and got perfect scores went home with certificates of achievement.
I did pretty well in this park, I was born with enough common sense to feed a whole village. Too much it seemed, when we were led down a path that went behind a hut. I stopped short and stared at the hut. the concrete pavement went behind the hut among some bushes and probably out again on the other side. the path was not well lit at all and I was nervous about taking it. I was caught in a conundrum; do i follow the path like a good pedestrian and risk getting molested by a probable pervert hiding in the bushes? or save my chastity and walk along the curb at the risk of getting caught by the wardens. I do realised now how at 7 I was strangely very much aware of the existence of pedophiles (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t something my mother thought to warn me about). The fact that I changed my path and started walking along the curb also showed that I held the possibility of imaginary rapists and molesters more real than the possibility of being caught by a traffic warden. And caught me they did when I was given a mark for walking dangerously along the curb. It never occurred to me to argue my case, that it was not my fault that they had built a bad path so they shouldn’t have penalised me for it. However I guess if I did argue that, it’d be hard pressed for my parents to explain to the authorities what sort of ideas have they been feeding me about pedophiles and parasites.
So I didn’t get my certificate but I without a doubt a better pedestrian than most people I meet on the street. like the lady who decided to jump in front of my moving car with her kid in her arms. or that night when a girl in a navy blue t-shirt decided to cross in front of my car as I was inching out of a downward sloping parking lot, and decided to test Fate again by crossing behind a reversing car. how about the lady who decided not to use the pavement the town council paid good money for and walk on the road, making the entire row of cars behind inch around her fat ass so that we allow another idiot to live another day. The list is long. people who obviously do not value their cheap lives so they decide to do what they will at the expense of others. Like suicidal people who throw themselves in front of commuter trains during peak hour.
So I propose we make people take pedestrian tests before they can venture out of their houses. It will be made up of 2 parts; a theory test much like the basic / advance theory tests drivers take (in Singapore) and a practical test where they put you at Road Safety Park and make you walk around while following the rules.
Basic Theory for Pedestrians
The theory will test when to cross the road, when not to, and definitely not to cross the road with 5 seconds left especially if you only have one leg and you aren’t an Olympic Gold medalist in 100m hopping. It will make sure you know to check the road before you start crossing. it will definitely ensure you know not to cross in front of a car turning left onto a main road, as drivers are usually looking right for oncoming cars and not for stupid pedestrians. It will test your knowledge on not crossing behind a reversing car and not walking in front of a forward moving car. it seems so simple but you’d be amazed at the number of people who will fail this first round.
For those who pass the theory test, they move onto the practical test where whatever they put what they’ve learnt to a road safety circuit. They will follow the same rules, walk the same paths that I walked many years ago, minus the over-active imagination for perverts. However to make things a little more real, we shall combine this pedestrian park together with a driver’s practice circuit. I think it’s fair to put people learning how to cross roads practice with drivers learning how to drive. I’m pretty sure this would be a fantastic real-life practice situation for both parties. People should learn to cross roads as if drivers can’t drive, while drivers should start learning to drive as if blind people without walking sticks are trying to cross a road.
Once you pass these 2 rounds, you will be given a little laminated card to certify you as a pedestrian. People who don’t have these cards will be fined harshly and made to do public service duty like wash other people’s cars. People who flout rules and get into near accidents at their own fault will be made to run around in a bumper car park for an hour while drivers have a go at them. This will perhaps instill fear, and some pain, in these people who carelessly throw the responsibility of their own lives into someone else’s hands. it’s like dodge ball. if you get hit in the face often enough, you’ll one day learn to actually dodge to avoid the pain.