This Syracuse New York personal injury lawyer loves to travel all over the world. I find other cultures and places fascinating. Last year I went to Japan. And this year it was Egypt, Jordan and Israel. (Just got back last week). See some pics I took above.
When I travel, because of what I do for a living, I can’t help noticing how other societies organize and structure their safety rules. I’m always on the lookout for dangerous conditions and am impressed when I see really safe practices. For example, in Japan I was impressed how pedestrians would wait for their light to turn green even when there was no motor vehicle anywhere near the intersection. I went right ahead and crossed if there was nothing coming. Made no sense to me to wait. The Japanese must have thought I was just another crazed foreigner. The Japanese seem obsessed with safety, cleanliness and rule-following. That’s probably one reason they live longer than any other people on the planet. Their average life expectancy is over 83 years. Ours is only 78.
Egypt was another story. I spent a few days in Cairo, a ramshackle city of 22,000,0000 people. It’s a fascinating place with thousands of years of history. The people are friendly, the food delicious and the sites incredible. But safety? Not a lot of emphasis on that. For example, there are almost no rules for crossing the street. I walked all over Cairo, and rarely did I see a crosswalk (and even then, motorists paid no attention to them). So how do you cross a street in Cairo? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Here is a video I took of my wife, Alejandra, and I braving a stream of Cairene motorists:
I have to admit, it was kind of thrilling to cross the street in Cairo. Not that I would like to have the same crossing rules (or lack thereof) here.
It wasn’t just roadway safety issues I noticed in Cairo. I also observed unsafe construction practices. Look at this video I took of some men attempting to dislodge a balcony from an old, partly demolished building:
This would never happen here. The workers would be required to where hardhats. They would be required to be tied up with harnesses and lanyards. They would have scaffolding. And there would be a barrier to protect the public from falling debris.
So Egypt has the pyramids, King Tut’s Tomb, colorful bazaars, and a thousand other treasures. Our country does not have such a long and rich history. But we have good safety rules. Boring? Yes. But that’s one reason that, for me, Egypt is a nice place to visit, but I’m glad I have been able to live and raise my family here.
We also went to Israel. Take a look at this restaurant with outdoor seating. We had breakfast here, and when I got up to walk toward the beach I almost got mowed down by a bicycle:
After nearly having my trip (life?) terminated early, I asked the waiter whether he had ever witnessed any accidents when his patrons get up and head toward the beach. His response? “Happens all the time”! I said, “wow, why don’t you put up a railing between the bicycle lane and the restaurant area, with some kind of safety crossing to get to the beach”? He had no good answer. But I do: Israel does not have strong personal injury laws that allow injured victims to hold restaurants like this responsible.
One thing I love about my country is the emphasis we place on safety. And you know what gets a lot of credit for that? Our liberal personal injury laws. When a roadway is unsafe, when a crosswalk should have been there but wasn’t, when a motorist fails to yield to a pedestrian, lawyers like me are allowed to take on the City or County who designed the roadway or whoever failed to install a crosswalk or the motorist who failed to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. In most countries, a person’s right to recover compensation for those responsible for injuring them is very limited.
Yeah, I know, a lot of folks complain about us personal injury lawyers. We are blamed for making insurance expensive. That’s not really true, but I won’t go into that here. I’ll simply remind you that everything has a cost, including safety. Without good, solid safety-enhancing laws that allow those injured through the negligence of others to receive REAL compensation, safety will inevitably lag. It’s human nature. If the penalty for failing to act safely is minimal, safe practices will be minimal, too.