Jaywalking in Germany - Dangers and possible fines

176 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, naberlin said:

You seriously think that the roads will descend into chaos if jaywalking is common?  

No, I said chaos will happen if nobody abides by traffic rules anymore. Not just jaywalking. But jaywalking is one little form of breaking the rules, however responsibly you did it, and that annoys other people who try to abide by them. You said you jaywalk when the roads are safe to cross, but the roads are safe probably because other traffic users follow the rules, e.g. the car drivers are waiting by the red light in the prior intersection. If all drivers dash through red lights at 180 kmh, there'd probably be no safe road to cross anyway. You said traffic users use common sense, but isn't common sense also some form of innate rules? Traffic rules are just formalising the collective common sense.

A jaywalker might do it responsibly, whatever that means, but I don't feel that it's right to support the behaviour. 

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The fact is that traffic lights and crossing aren't every 100m on every road. So we all learn how to cross a road safely without them. We're all still here, we can all do it. So you get the situation that on the walk to work you successfully cross 6 roads all on your own but then have to wait for the little green man on the 7th road. The only factor here is the rules, that's it. Do you obey the rules or not?

 

I am a jaywalker, I do it all the time. Especially at lights that are activated when you press the button. I feel like a dick if I stop the traffic just so I can cross the road. I am an adult, I could have done it without the light. I'm British so it's also just something I've grown up with.

 

But I am aware that it is against the rules here, whether I like it or not (it's not at the top of my list of gripes - pick your battles and all that). I would never drive through a red light even if the road was all clear so why do I break the rules when I'm walking but not driving? I don't know really. I guess because walking is just so natural and I fell I should be allowed to walk anywhere, any way I want. Driving feels more like a privilege...something I am allowed to do...they built the roads so I follow the rules.

 

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1 hour ago, theGman said:

I'm British so it's also just something I've grown up with.

I would never drive through a red light even if the road was all clear so why do I break the rules when I'm walking but not driving?

I don't know really. I guess because walking is just so natural and I fell I should be allowed to walk anywhere, any way I want.

Driving feels more like a privilege...something I am allowed to do...they built the roads so I follow the rules.

 

I'm British too so, having also grown up with a similar outlook on the situation I sympathize with your point of view. I'd lived here well over a decade before I began to perceive two essential differences between the circumstances in the Germany and the UK (or any other country I've visited or lived in). 

 

The first difference is a societal one grounded in the German standard Kindergarten and Grundschule training in road safety and road rule discipline. This system is as ingrained as the ABC or times tables is in everyone who grew up in Germany during the last 50 - 60 years. As parents and/or grandparents of the second or third generation of small children many of them are exposed more than once as adults to these courses on the ground rules of road safety too. I think that exposure and awareness (of what disregard of the rules signals to young children) is the main reason why it is so common to be chastised for jaywalking at traffic-light controlled crossings by elder Germans.

 

The second difference is in the legal status of the pedestrian road user. Even if you remain unmoved by the arguments about sending other people's kids the 'wrong signal' this difference is very important to be aware of. Unlike most other countries, whenever a person is on a public pavement, walkway, roadway, path or square in Germany they are legally defined as a participant in the public traffic and can as such be held equally responsible before the law for the consequences of their actions or inactions as any other road user.

 

Most road traffic accidents in Germany develop into legal disputes. The majority of those cases are decided on technical reports by the police and vehicle experts because, especially where pedestrians are involved, there are rarely enough willing and reliable witnesses available to testify on behalf of the defense. In the UK and most other countries' legal systems the default mindset tends to favour the pedestrian's point of view. This is definitely not so in Germany where there is virtually no limit to the amount of potential damages that can be awarded against the individual.

 

Driving is, as you say, a privilege but you should also be aware that you could lose that privilege if you are deemed responsible for causing, or being partially at fault in causing, a road (or pavement!) accident as a pedestrian or cyclist.

 

2B

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2 hours ago, 2B_orNot2B said:

...you should also be aware that you could lose that privilege if you are deemed responsible for causing, or being partially at fault in causing, a road (or pavement!) accident as a pedestrian or cyclist.

2B, this is interesting info, thanks.  

 

That said, I have to say that jay-walking is probably the least risky thing I do in Berlin.  Motorcycle and bicycle are definitely riskier, even crossing with light is often riskier:  at an intersection near my office where I cross the street a couple of times a day, when I cross with the light, I often have to dodge cars which are attempting to turn right or left onto the street I'm crossing.  Moreover, the walk-signal is too short for me to even get across the street before it turns red again.  Just this morning a car ran the red light while I was crossing (with the light).  On the other hand, if I jaywalk I can look around to make sure there are no cars nearby and cross at my leisure.

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9 minutes ago, naberlin said:

On the other hand, if I jaywalk I can look around to make sure there are no cars nearby

You can do that even when crossing while the light is green. As we Germans learned in Kindergarten already: "schau erst links, dann rechts, dann geradeaus - so kommst du sicher gut nach Haus" (check to the left first, then to the right and straight - that way you'll geht home safely). One if the childhood mantras I'll never forget.

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20 minutes ago, jeba said:

You can do that even when crossing while the light is green.

Of course I can, and I do.  

But even if I set off immediately when the light says walk, there is not enough time to get across the street, much less if I have to wait for cars.  Moreover, most of the left and right turning cars appear as I am in the middle of the street (crossing with the light), and the left-turning cars come from behind me, so they are difficult to see until they are in the crosswalk.

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7 hours ago, naberlin said:

Yes, to some degree road traffic is made up of rules, but to a large degree it is made up of common sense and simple awareness.  You seriously think that the roads will descend into chaos if jaywalking is common?  Look at the US, where jay-walking is very common and yet as many pedestrians die as people die in the bathtub.  Chaos?  I think not.  I lived for many years in Moscow, where drivers are hardly known for abiding by the rules.  But you know what?  There is no chaos there either--millions of people commute to work every day in their cars, for one simple reason--each vehicle is controlled by a sentient, aware, rational person that wants to avoid accidents.  And to a remarkable degree, they do.

 

In the US many bad things are common including driving very close to each other as if they never learned what stopping distance is. Jay-walking is not a problem because either nobody walks there or the traffic is a one big traffic jam like in NYC...

 

Moscow... no comments. Also Sicily, Naples, Crete island of Greece, many places there are where driving requires the highest degree of concentration and average traffic speed is 30 kmh.

 

In Germany you can go 170 kmh and be twice less concentrated as in Crete where the number of accidents is higher despite the fact that there are no autobahns at all.

 

Germany is one of the best countries in the world to walk, to cycle and to drive, and one of the reasons for that is that people follow the rules.

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15 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

In the US many bad things are common including driving very close to each other as if they never learned what stopping distance is. Jay-walking is not a problem because either nobody walks there or the traffic is a one big traffic jam like in NYC...

 

 

That's an oddly specific statement for a huge country like the US.  Jay-walking is absolutely a problem, depending on location. 

 

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But in many states, the percentage of pedestrian deaths was much higher. In California, 23% of all motor vehicle fatalities were pedestrians -- well above the national average. The pedestrian-heavy District of Columbia had the nation's highest rate, at 45%.

 

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-california-pedestrian-deaths-20150226-story.html

 

Edit:  Yes I realize these deaths could be from:  jaywalking, crossing when allowed but still killed (maybe they still didn't check if it was clear though they had the green man), and possibly deaths from standing on a curb with no intention to cross.  But if we're going to argue ad nauseum about jaywalking is bad, let's also for fun, argue how crossing without checking AND only relying on the little green man is bad.

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7 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

In the US many bad things are common including driving very close to each other as if they never learned what stopping distance is. Jay-walking is not a problem because either nobody walks there or the traffic is a one big traffic jam like in NYC...

 

Moscow... no comments. Also Sicily, Naples, Crete island of Greece, many places there are where driving requires the highest degree of concentration and average traffic speed is 30 kmh.

Generalize much?  I won't bother responding to the points that no one in a nation of 300 million walks or drives in anything but traffic jams, but I would hope that driving anywhere demands the "highest degree of concentration".  I guess we'll also have to disagree about whether being able to drive 170 kpmh with half the concentration is a good thing or not.  

 

And you can mock the driving in Moscow or Greece all you want, but the road systems there are perfectly functional, especially for those that know how to drive there--it is really not that difficult (although it does require a high degree of concentration), it's just that you have to know the local rules (or really driving habits).  

 

Slycookies, interesting stats about the US, especially since when I am in the US I live in Washington, DC!  Never had a close call there, though.  

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1 minute ago, naberlin said:

 

Slycookies, interesting stats about the US, especially since when I am in the US I live in Washington, DC!  Never had a close call there, though.  

 

Fun fact about deaths in D.C. from here:  http://wtop.com/sprawl-crawl/2016/01/pedestrian-deaths-rise-d-c-region/

 

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Of the five dozen people who died locally last year, the average age was 48 years old. About half of those struck and killed were 50 years or older.

 

Unfortunately, I don't have time to dig for more data but it does say:

 

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The Montgomery County police report that 12 pedestrians were killed last year, up from nine in 2014. Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Jeff Dunckel says that the pedestrian was found to be at fault in most of these crashes.

“These fatal collisions oftentimes involve higher speeds in mid-block sections of the roadway where drivers are not expecting to see pedestrians,” Dunckel says, adding that pedestrians can do their part by being more aware of their surroundings and by obeying the traffic signals.

 

Based on this extremely limited data set, it goes to the point that you shouldn't take the risk to jaywalk. 

 

Whether or not one are morally obligated to obey is a personal call.  I doubt a thread on the internet is going to changes anyone's moral opinions on whether they should jaywalk or not. Legally we all know what is allowed and not and as such, we can be adult about facing the consequences of our actions.

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13 hours ago, desdemona said:

Jaywalkers are rule breaker and that's what irk people the most.

ja, und??

 

13 hours ago, desdemona said:

 You think you're such a bad ass for jaywalking and getting away with it every time

thug life...

 

13 hours ago, desdemona said:

[...] but you got away with it thanks to other people who abide by the rules and take care of jaywalkers like you.

please decide, either "they" take care of the jaywalkers or they let them go with it

 

 

 

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35 minutes ago, slycookies said:

But if we're going to argue ad nauseum about jaywalking is bad, let's also for fun, argue how crossing without checking AND only relying on the little green man is bad.

Nobody disagrees here, although I could have argued in this thread that in Germany it is safe to do so. Again, in a "Oma in Krankenhaus" scenario a distressed person will cross without looking. But doing so on green is way safer than jaywalking.

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Some old statistics

 

Pedestrians liable for accidents (data from 2011): 

Berlin: 1397, 409 per 1 million residents

Hamburg: 572, 322

Germany: 15476, 189

Bavaria: 2048, 164

 

In other words, pedestrians when they are held liable for accidents, cause 2,49 times as much accidents in jaywalking Berlin as in lawful Bavaria (per capita).

 

 

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4 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

In other words, pedestrians when they are held liable for accidents, cause 2,49 times as much accidents in jaywalking Berlin as in lawful Bavaria (per capita).

Um, if you're going to use statistics to try to prove your point, at least compare apples-to-apples; comparing Berlin (a dense urban environment) to Bavaria (probably more cows than people?) is hardly relevant.  What are results for Munich and Frankfurt?

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Would love to, but there is only statistics about fatalities in general.

 

Bavaria is a land of Audi and BMW, there are much more cars per capita than in Berlin here.

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1 hour ago, yourkeau said:

Germany is one of the best countries in the world to walk, to cycle and to drive, and one of the reasons for that is that people follow the rules.

 

I'm sorry but this just isn't true. Speeding is definitely an issue here. So is tailgating - based on the law I reckon most of the drivers I see on the road each morning should have a ban by now. The roads are very good though, I'll admit that. But I would still rather drive 100km in Italy any day than 100km in Germany.

 

Cycling is good here.

 

Walking is OK, but aggressive cyclists are annoying and cars having green the same time as pedestrians is just weird to me.

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27 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Bavaria is a land of Audi and BMW, there are much more cars per capita than in Berlin here.

Sure, but it is much less urban, which makes a big difference in terms of pedestrian density, and thus in jaywalking incidents. 

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I'm sorry but this just isn't true.

Then name which country is better. You named Italy. Is it a joke or some British sarcasm I don't get?

 

If, of course, by Italy you didn't mean "rural Südtirol West of Bolzano", then indeed, but rural anything in Germany is just as good.

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15 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Then name which country is better.

 

My experience  is that people follow the rules better in the UK.  There's  a less excessive speeding and tailgating and jumping red lights than I encounter in Germany. But then there are also many more chances to get caught if you do so, due to the higher prevalence of cameras and presence of traffic police, so perhaps it's more of an enforced compliance to the rules? 

PS I've often seen the German Polizei breaking the traffic laws.  Just this week I watched a police car mount the pavement and drive along it rather than wait a few seconds for another car to pass and make space. It wasn't in a hurry - just an inpatient driver who knew he would get away with it. 

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10 minutes ago, clickety6 said:

 

My experience  is that people follow the rules better in the UK.  There's  a less excessive speeding and tailgating and jumping red lights than I encounter in Germany. But then there are also many more chances to get caught if you do so, due to the higher prevalence of cameras and presence of traffic police, so perhaps it's more of an enforced compliance to the rules? 

PS I've often seen the German Polizei breaking the traffic laws.  Just this week I watched a police car mount the pavement and drive along it rather than wait a few seconds for another car to pass and make space. It wasn't in a hurry - just an inpatient driver who knew he would get away with it. 

UK is better, agree. Also the higher number of roundabouts there is the reason why Brits don't speed.

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