An American friend suggested this topic as one I should write about. In the USA, it is a criminal offence to cross the street where there is no pedestrian crossing. In France pedestrians have right of way and young people seem to think that risking their life to prove a point is a matter of principle. My friend drives her husband to work at the university and has to keep her eyes peeled and to drive at a snail’s pace in order to avoid mowing down foolhardy teenagers. It was one of my prayers when my daughter moved back to England that this particular habit had not got too engrained. Pedestrian accident statistics give the figure of 317 for France and 253 for the UK. These are the deaths of people 30 days after an accident. I presume this is a yearly tally. For countries that have very similar populations, France’s pedestrians clearly have 20% more fatal accidents. French law says that if pedestrians have shown that they want to cross, by taking a step into the road, then they have priority. If a driver runs into a pedestrian, he/she is responsible for the injuries incurred unless it can be proved that the jaywalker wanted to commit suicide! If there is a crossing within 50 meters these rules do not apply, and walkers ought to use the zebra crossing. Not stopping for a pedestrian could lose you 4 points off your licence or a fine of 135€.

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