Zebra Crossings a Dying Breed

November 25, 2011

Zebra Crossings a Dying Breed

The United Kingdom’s zebra crossings are 60 years old but, like many animals it is faced with serious threat. The first appeared in Slough, Berkshire, in the early 1950’s. However, more than one thousand have been taken away during the last 5yrs.

Some others have been replaced by more advanced solutions with flashing signs and lights.The actual number of deaths on the crossings has doubled since 2007, partially caused by a growing reluctance of car drivers to stop at zebra crossings.‘Zebras are regarded as substandard to other pedestrian crossings since there is no red light showing cars that they should stop,’ said a representitive of road safety at the AA.

‘In some UK villages, there is pressure from residents for local authorities to fit pelican crossings because they believe they are less dangerous, so zebras are increasingly being phased out.’

The UK government introduced the crossings because the number of accidents involving pedestrians on the roads was escalating. They updated crossings designated with small metal studs on the tarmac, that proved too difficult for road users to see.

A wide variety of diverse colours were thought of, including blue and yellow as well as white and red stripes.Finally black and white was finally found to make the best visible impact. James Callaghan MP, who later became prime minister, was the first person to notice the likeness to the zebra, and the first pedestrian crossing was invented.

However, the sheer numbers of deaths was still way too high and therefore the “panda crossing”, a signal-controlled crossing was introduced in 1962A zebra crossing costs around £10,000, whilst the pelican crossings, which are operated in part by the pedestrians, are about £35,000.

Five people died on zebra crossings in the past year, and 144 were injured, in comparison to only three deaths in 2006. One explanation is charges for road users failing to stop at the crossings are cheaper here than in other places in Europe. In The United Kingdom motorists can be charged a £60 fine and three points, whereas the highest fee in Belgium may be £2,000.

The most widley known zebra crossings is situated at Abbey Road in north London – used on the Beatles album “Abbey Road”.

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