In another one of our posts regarding distracted driving, we mentioned how Smartphones have added a dangerous element to the road for both drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We mentioned that driving while texting is 6X more likely to cause a car accident than driving while intoxicated. Now, we’d like to address the issue of “distracted walking”. A recent poll put out by AA revealed that ¾ of drivers witness pedestrians walk off the pavement while glued to their distractive Smartphones.
We live in an age where Smartphones have made life easier. Smartphones enable users to go online, check social media and post updates, listen to music and watch videos. The digital world is now right in our pockets, and many individuals find themselves glued to their Smartphones. The problem is, when you tune in to your Smartphone, you may tune out of your surroundings. This is why pedestrians who find themselves looking down at their Smartphone may place themselves and others in serious danger.
Pedestrians are walking into crosswalks, straight into oncoming traffic, all because their attention is devoted entirely toward their Smartphones. This isn’t just dangerous for them – it’s dangerous for drivers on the road as well. We’ve seen a nationwide increase in pedestrian accidents due to distracted walking. And as these Smartphones become more and more technologically advanced, the problem will only get worst.
A survey by the University of Washington found that approximately 1 in 3 Americans are busy texting or involved in some other sort of distracting behavior while at crosswalks. Those who are glued to their Smartphones are usually looking down at them while walking, causing enough distraction to continue onto a crosswalk even when it’s not safe to cross.
A German city by the name of Augsburg is making moves to combat this issue. How so? By embedding traffic lights at city crosswalks in the ground, literally. By doing so, they hope that individuals looking down at their Smartphones will see the traffic light and be alerted before they potentially walk off into oncoming traffic. It’s a simple, yet pretty innovative approach.
Do you think we should consider this for metro areas such as New York City? Although it is mostly up to us to ensure our own safety, the younger generation is most distracted by smartphones. And Smartphone games are a huge contributing factor to this problem.
Here in the US, not much action has been taken to help prevent “distracted walking”. In New Jersey, lawmakers are proposing a legislation that would ban people from using cellphones whatsoever while walking. Those who are caught walking while on their phone would face up to a $50 fine or jail time. Sounds pretty outrageous, right? Instead of innovating, we’re policymaking. There’s a good reason that many people are forced to walk and be on their phone at the same time. A law banning this would fully alter the way people live their lives. This legislation, albeit proposed with the intention of keeping people safe, seems pretty extreme.
What do you think? Should individuals be punished for being on the phone and walking as a deterrent? Or should we spend the money to innovate and tailor to people’s lifestyles in order to keep them safe? We’d like to hear your opinion on this.
If you’re walking on a busy street, and you need to take a phone call, stop and take it. If you’re busy and on the move, consider whether the phone call can wait or not. Make sure your kids know how risky distracted walking can be. It seems innocent, but according to numerous studies, it isn’t. It’s dangerous for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists. The roadways are dangerous as is, and we all need to share them to get to where we need to be. Keep yourself and others out of harm’s way by paying full attention to the road – whether you’re driving, biking, or simply walking.