Re: @ Goldmember
I spend quite a lot of time in some countries with the jay-walking rule, and, whilst they seem completely objectionable to the British mindset*, they do seem to work. It is very funny seeing British tourists getting fined for just wandering into the road without due care and attention.
Which brings me to the next point - there most certainly should be an element of "due care and attention" on pedestrians, just the same as on any other other user of the roads. The loon with the headphones/mobile phone/book/newspaper/group of friends who is utterly oblivious to what s going on around her/him should be liable if an accident occurs and their behaviour contributed to it. The idiot parent sticking the pushchair into the road into the path of oncoming traffic should be prosecuted and have the child removed from them. Actions should have consequences.
You write "OK, so I'm walking through town at four in the morning; it's deserted, quiet enough for me to hear a car coming from a quarter-mile away, and I come to some traffic lights. According to you, unless I stand and wait for two or three minutes, waiting for the green man to grant me permission to cross the safely deserted street, I'm so idiotically reckless that I should be punished as a criminal. But, if I cross the same road a few hundred yards away, where there are no lights, I'm perfectly sensible and safe." Yes, it sounds silly, but it is what is required of a driver. Many times I've been stopped at red lights in the middle of the night, when there is no good reason (on roundabouts, for instance). We can argue the toss about what could be done about that, but the rule is "wait for the green to appear" - no excuses.
* The same British mindset that tends to come into play when "interpreting" all rules of the road, regardless of mode of use. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all tend to think "this is mine, and bugger everyone else".