Lights display simultaneous

Cases

Lights display simultaneous "go" both to traffic AND pedestrians

A series of public road intersections around the Australian Capital Territory give green lights simultaneously to both pedestrians and vehicles, it has been revealed by a coronial inquiry.

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A series of public road intersections around the Australian Capital Territory give green lights simultaneously to both pedestrians and vehicles, it has been revealed by a coronial inquiry. 

An elderly female pedestrian was struck and killed by a school bus after the insection showed her the "green man" crossing signal and, at the same time, showed a green light to traffic. 
 

Facts and background

 

65-year old Constance Harrison was lawfully crossing a road intersection at a pedestrian crossing, which was showing the green man to pedestrians, when she was struck by a school bus. The bus had turned left into the intersection and she was in its path. Ms Harrison was knocked to the ground and the rear wheels of the bus ran over her body. She suffered a fatal crush injury to her chest and died at the scene. 

Law


The bus driver was arrested and charged with an offence of negligent driving occasioning death. However, the charges were dismissed by the ACT Chief Magistrate on 8 September 2015.

"It is clear from written submissions made to me that Ms Harrison’s family struggle with the outcome of the criminal proceedings," Coroner Boss reported in the inquest findings.

The coroner added that it was inappropriate for him to look behind that decision, which includes enquiring into the circumstances of what the bus driver may or may not have seen, any reasons why he may or may not have seen Ms Harrison and what he should have done on the day of the incident. 

Considerations

 

Coroner Boss then considered the matter from an angle of public safety. It became apparent during the investigation that the pedestrian light turned green at the same time as the traffic signal for vehicles.
“I consider that this simultaneous signalling constitutes a matter of public safety… as turning vehicles are permitted to cross pedestrian crossings at exactly the same time pedestrians are told that they can cross the road,” coroner Boss commented.

Roads ACT voluntarily agreed to modify signals programming at that particular intersection to allow four seconds to elapse between the start of the “walk” signal for pedestrians and the start of the green signal for traffic. 

The coroner made further inquiries of RoadsACT and discovered that there are a “number” of intersections that cannot be modified – neither physically nor by changing traffic light programming – to better protect pedestrians.

The bottom line: Employers should consider informing all staff who drive, cycle, or walk on public roads as part of their job to be aware that traffic crossings may not be safe to use even when the green man / green light is showing. Employees need to maintain situational awareness and be specifically on the look-out for otherwise unexpected vehicles / pedestrians / cyclists at road crossings. All road-using employees need to individually assess the their safety at any intersection on a case-by-case basis regardless of the colour of the traffic signals.

Read the findings


An inquest into the death of Constance Carolle Harrison

 

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