Crossing the road in São Paulo sometimes feels like a game of Russian Roulette. Anyone’s who’s tried will know what I mean. I find the best way to do it is to ignore zebra crossings and try to run across when there’s a gap. If you try and wait at the crossing you can wait a while and when you venture out the cars won’t necessarily stop.
It’s quite dangerous at first and I almost got run over a few times early on but then you get used to it. But despite it being quite "normal" it’s been getting quite a bit of media attention recently, like the front page of the Diario São Paulo above which reports that of 7007 people who were run over in the city last year 630 or so died.
There are even signs like this one on Teodoro Sampaio which officially asks vehicles to respect pedestrians:
Obviously they weren’t working very well which is why on the 8th of August a series of hardline penalties on zebra crossing infringements were launched by the Companhia de Engenharia de Tráfego (the local traffic control & management organization) commonly known as the CET. The new rules mean that even when the traffic light is green if you don’t respect somebody who happens to be on the crossing you are considered guilty of a infração gravíssima (major infringement) and liable to pay 191,53 reais (about 115 USD) plus get 7 automatic penalty points on your license.
Difficult to apply you might be thinking. Well, according to official CET figure they managed to apply 2270 penalties in the first 5 days of the campaign, that’s one every 2 minutes. At this rate we would be looking at well over 10,000 penalties per month which would make zebra crossing one of the Top 5 most common traffic infringements. Good thing or bad thing? I´m not sure and although we’d like to think it’s not one of the main reason for the change the skeptics will raise an eyebrow at how quickly an extra 2 million reais is being raised every month by the CET.