The campaign to sensitize road users on zebra crossings will continue, say police 

Traffic: An old man and a young monk wait at a zebra crossing to get over the other side of the road. A driver stops his car. He waits for the duo to cross the road. The little monk nervously gestures the driver to go. The driver smiles and lets them cross the zebra crossing first.

This norm has become common along the Thimphu – Babesa highway for the past few days now. Drivers and pedestrians in Thimphu follow safety rules, after the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) initiated an awareness campaign on zebra crossing use more than a week ago.

The trend of increasing road accidents, caused due to pedestrians and drivers not following zebra crossing rules for their safety, started the campaign. About 16 road accident cases involving pedestrians occurred in Thimphu this year. There are 59 zebra crossings in Thimphu. About 22 zebra crossings each are drawn along the Norzin Lam and Babesa expressway, while Chang Lam has 15.

Traffic police personnel were placed at various zebra crossings monitoring drivers to stop on designated areas and pedestrians to use zebra crossing to cross the road. Pamphlets with safety rules for drivers and pedestrians were also distributed.

Chief of Police Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, said it is early to comment on the progress as it has been a few days since the awareness campaign started. “However, there has been decorum on the road,” the Police Chief said. “So far there has been good response from drivers but pedestrians need to be sensitive and move faster when crossing the roads.”

A civil servant, Sonam Dorji, said that some of the pedestrians talk over the phone or with their friends and take longer to cross the road irritating drivers.

“Pedestrians should at least have some courtesy to walk faster as the drivers also need to reach their destination on time,” he said. “It is understandable if the pedestrian is old or disabled.”

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said that most of the pedestrians are uneducated and it will take some time to make them understand the rule. RBP, he said, will continue educating drivers and pedestrians until they are adequately informed.

After enough sensitization, both drivers and pedestrians will be penalized if found violating the zebra crossing rule.

According to Road Safety and Transport Act 1999, drivers failing to give way to pedestrians on designated areas would be fined Nu 700 while pedestrians moving into the path of a vehicle and remaining or standing on the road carriage way will be imposed a fine of Nu 550.

Dechen Tshomo