A motorist has been cleared of blame for a traffic accident after a court heard that a pedestrian who was hit by a car while crossing the road had been under the influence of alcohol and had been negligent.
The decision was taken by Magistrate Joe Mifsud who insisted that pedestrians needed to shoulder responsibility for their actions as much as motorists.
The case was instituted by the police at the request of pedestrian Gabriele Helga Whitehouse against motorist Mary Sultana, 58 of Qala. Ms Sultana had been at the wheel of a Toyota Vitz which hit and injured Ms Whitehouse in Mġarr Road, Xewkija in August 2013.
The motorist was accused of negligence and of not observing regulations.
Ms Whitehouse had been walking her two dogs when the accident happened as she was crossing the road, some 20 metres away from a zebra crossing. She suffered a broken bone in one of her feet.
During investigations it resulted that Ms Whitehouse had been under the influence of alcohol and she had a history of chronic consumption of alcohol which impacted her reflexes.
Magistrate Mifsud said it had been established that Ms Whitehouse had a drink problem and before the accident she had consumed a substantial amount of alcohol.
The motorist had been driving near the Gozo university centre where the road narrowed and only a car on either side could drive through.
Magistrate Mifsud said that while pedestrians had a right to cross the road, they had to be prudent and cross with reasonable dispatch.
The Highway Code laid down that pedestrians needed to use pedestrian crossings wherever they were available and exercise caution and prudence.
While we rightly have penalties against motorists who do not observe traffic regulations, the time has come for pedestrians to also answer for their actions when they are negligent.- Magistrate
The court said it was recommending that law-makers introduce penalties on pedestrians.
"The time has come for pedestrians to shoulder responsibility for their actions... While we rightly have penalties against motorists who do not observe traffic regulations, the time has come for pedestrians to also answer for their actions when they are negligent, such as when they do not use zebra crossings and in cases of jay walking."
In this case, there was no doubt that the pedestrian was solely responsible for this accident because, while under the influence of drink, she crossed the road negligently with two dogs pulling her.
Had there been negligent or dangerous driving or overspeeding by the motorist, the consequences would have been far more serious.
The motorist was therefore acquitted.