The Nova Scotia Government is increasing its jaywalking fine to $697.50 (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.ca/2015/12/07/proposed-big-boost-to-jaywalking-fine-in-nova-scotia-heavily-criticized_n_8741682 NULL.html). When the recently introduced law amendment gets passed, crossing the street in the wrong manner will attract a bigger fine than driving impaired, which is $600.
There is a large backlash against this hike in the fine. Arguments against often cite the imbalance of the punishment with respect to other transgression (http://thechronicleherald NULL.ca/opinion/1327102-lethbridge-punishing-pedestrians-a-poor-policy)s ($237 for driving while using a cell phone), the inability for many people to pay, and the deterrent against active transportation.
But there is a simpler argument against it. It just won’t work.
The government is saying it is a deterrent, it will raise awareness of the shared responsibility of being safe on the roads. Shared between cars and pedestrians.
The problem is that there is already a greater deterrent in place, and it isn’t working. You could get flattened by a cement truck.
If you had to make a choice right now, which would you choose: Getting flattened by a cement truck or paying a $700 fine? I will take door #2, Monty. I am confident you would too.
The proposed increased fine is no more of a deterrent that what is already in place: The threat of being flattened by a cement truck. If someone is not compelled to be more careful crossing the street because they could get flattened by a cement truck, a $700 fine is peanuts.
What is required here is behaviour change. The kind of behaviour change that Elmer the Safety Elephant used to teach in our schools. That is what will make a difference.
I really don’t like driving down Spring Garden Road anymore. I am terrified of people stepping off the curb in front of my vehicle without looking. Not just not looking to see if a car is coming, but even sometimes not looking to see the colour of the traffic light. Often, the only thing the person is looking at is the smartphone he/she is holding.
This isn’t just happening in Nova Scotia, by the way. It is happening across Canada. It often comes up as an issue in the seminars I teach on behaviour change, right across the country.
We need to correct the bad and dangerous behaviours, of both drivers and pedestrians, by addressing their behaviours directly. Raising a fine to raise awareness and hoping that will translate into behaviour — well, that just doesn’t work. Behavioural Science tells us that. Awareness doesn’t necessarily translate into behaviour. Look at blood donation: everyone thinks it is a good idea and understand why, yet only 3.5% of Canadians donate (http://www NULL.beyondattitude NULL.com/2011/10/01/why-cbsm-in-3-minutes/). It is a golden rule: Awareness does not necessarily translate into behaviour.
We need to address pedestrian and driver behaviours directly using proven techniques from behavioural science. Lives are at stake.