Women cross the street in front of moving traffic in Havana, Cuba, Monday, March 4, 2013. Cuban law prescribes jail time for motorists who kill pedestrians, even if they arent speeding and the victim crosses improperly. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
HAVANA (AP) - Teenagers dash across a six-lane thoroughfare and launch themselves into the balmy waters of the Straits of Florida.
A couple skips the sidewalk and strolls down an unlit street as bulky 1950s cars with bald tires and worn brakes zip past inches away.
Women cross the street in front of moving traffic in Havana, Cuba, Monday. Cuban law prescribes jail time for motorists who kill pedestrians, even if they aren't speeding and the victim crosses improperly.
"Here there is no custom of using the crosswalk," said Maria Rubio, a 55-year-old Havana resident who had just sauntered across the six lanes of bustling 23rd Street, mere steps from a zebra-striped crossing. "We simply cross wherever we are."
Jaywalking is endemic in Havana, where islanders seem to treat the streets like a real-life version of the video game Frogger, weaving in and out of traffic while risking life and limb to reach the other side. Locals call it "toreando autos" or "bullfighting with cars."
Now authorities are trying to do something about the lack of caution, which they say contributes to hundreds of pedestrians being struck each year.
A recent full-page spread in the state newspaper Juventud Rebelde, titled "Lethal imprudence," showed photos of Cubans darting in front of oncoming cars. It also gave rare data on traffic accidents, saying more than 1,300 pedestrians are mowed down each year in this nation of 11 million people. About one in seven of those accidents is fatal.
"A catalog of suffering that can be overcome only through love of life and sufficient caution," the brief accompanying text said.