Helen Pitt of the Sydney Morning Herald has written about her son’s recent run in with the law while ‘jay walking’. Our light rail and pedestrian ‘expert’, Belinda Cassidy has written an open letter to Helen.


Dear Helen,

I thought this was a great article explaining the term ‘jay walking’ and making some observations about apparent inconsistencies in policing, but you lost me in your penultimate sentence:

 Expect “jaywalking” to be a revenue raiser in the next few years.

If you have ever seen the aftermath of a pedestrian vs car accident you would appreciate that road rules are there for a reason – to help reduce our tragically high pedestrian fatality rate and worse, the high injury rate when a pedestrian gets clobbered by any kind of vehicle, let alone a light rail vehicle.

Motor vehicles are often described as ‘lethal weapons’ and you would know that cars kill more pedestrians than the other way around. The light rail vehicles are 69 metres long and as your son’s HSC physics classes might tell you, bringing them to a halt when someone runs in front of them would not be easy and they cannot of course swerve to avoid a person on the tracks.

Your average car weighs well over a tonne and that sort of weight impacting on a human body is never pretty. Pedestrians injured in car accident usually sustain nasty orthopaedic injuries including amputations, serious head injuries with resultant brain injury, degloving injuries where skin and flesh are stripped from the body leaving horrendous scars. Seriously injured pedestrians might have a lifetime of pain, may never get back to work and need hundreds and thousands of dollars of treatment.

Helen, sit down with your son and tell him you are glad he was caught and when the fine arrives make him pay it. Talk to him about the road rules and road safety and encourage him to repeat the message to his friends. And above all Helen, be glad that you are not visiting your son in hospital with pins and plates holding him together or worse still, in the morgue, with a tag around his toe.

I support the police nabbing as many jay walkers as possible in these early days of the return of light rail trams to the CBD and our suburbs. I doubt they are revenue raising but trying desperately to get our road toll towards zero.