Can someone explain the logic of jaywalking as an offence?

Image by Transguyjay from Flickr
There's a lot I like about America. But something I really can't get my head around is the US assumption that human beings are unable to cross a road without help, and treating it as an offence if they attempt to do so.

As a European I struggle to understand the US attitude to gun control. To allow so many thousands to be slaughtered each year simply to uphold a small part of the constitution which is both out of date and arguably misinterpreted - a constitution that has already been amended many times - just doesn't seem right to us. However, despite this, I can admire part of the thinking behind the right to bear arms - that we shouldn't allow an overbearing government to take control of individual's decision-making more than we can help.

So, bearing in mind that Americans are prepared to allow thousands of their friends and relations to be killed each year to uphold the individual's ability to stand up to the state... why do they meekly allow the government to tell them that they are unable to look left and right, make sure there's no traffic coming and then cross a road wherever they like? Why do they accept the imposition of fines and humiliation, simply for failing to give in to the dominance of a light that says 'Walk' or 'Don't Walk' - or by crossing somewhere that isn't a designated crossing?

I ought to stress that I have never had this problem myself. I am not lashing out because I got caught. It simply occurred to me this morning, as I crossed a dual carriageway with the pedestrian crossing lights on red, because there wasn't a car in sight in either direction that it's not exactly rocket science.


  1. My own thoughts exactly! I live in Montreal, and was recently fined $37 for corssing a road. Admittedly, the little man was red, but there wasn't a car in sight - just, unfortunately for me, a cop. Given the way people drive in Montreal, it is often less safe to cross when you are legally allowed!

    1. I didn’t realise you had it in Canada as well!


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