Price of jaywalking is directing traffic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2008, 12:00am

Jaywalkers caught by police in Nanjing have to work as temporary traffic controllers for half an hour - an attempt by the authorities to teach people to observe traffic rules.

The regulation, which took effect on Saturday, is part of a 10-month campaign by traffic police to raise public awareness on road safety.

So far, 245 pedestrians or cyclists caught ignoring traffic lights have been given the punishment, serving as temporary traffic controllers for 30 minutes, or until they have caught the next offender, China News Service reported.

Each offender is given a pair of white gloves and a small red traffic flag and must step onto a platform at main intersections and help direct traffic. Sometimes video of them doing so is shown on a roadside screen.

The method was used in some mainland cities in the early 1980s and proved effective. Authorities believed that by forcing offenders to help direct traffic, they would appreciate the burden police faced every day from pedestrians who flouted the rules. They also realised it could help ease a shortage of manpower. The measure was later abandoned after complaints it was too humiliating.

The Nanjing government decided to reintroduce it after fines proved ineffective as a deterrent.

'The [cash fine] measures worked well, but there were some problems. Many people said they were unemployed; some faked their identity [to avoid paying their fine],' a Nanjing evening paper said.