Attention walkers: Put that phone in your pocket

One in three pedestrians use their phones while crossing the street, and it’s more dangerous than you may think.

Most+pedestrian+related+accidents+are+because+of+distracted+walkers+on+their+phones.+

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Most pedestrian related accidents are because of distracted walkers on their phones.

It’s around 5:30 pm on a Friday afternoon. After a long day of work or school, all you want to do is get home. But instead, here you are, driving around a busy Publix parking lot trying to find a spot so you can quickly pick up a few groceries for the week.

Then– Screech! You slam on the brakes and the car suddenly comes to a halt. After taking a deep breath, you press your foot lightly on the gas and continue driving slowly down the row. Behind you is a woman walking down the very middle of the aisle, oblivious to the fact that she almost got clean run over.

In the rearview, you see her crossing the street without hesitating, not even at the crosswalk. Again, a car is forced to slam on the breaks. And again, she doesn’t react. She is too busy looking down at her phone, a pair of AirPods in her ears.

This happens all the time. One in three pedestrians use their phones while crossing the street. The phone-using-pedestrians might be getting out of the car and walking into a store, or crossing a busy intersection, when they get a text message or feel the need to answer an important email. Let’s admit it: we all do it sometimes.  When we hear a notification, we automatically reach into our pockets and check our phones. Next thing you know, we’re crossing the road, walking straight into congested areas without even thinking about how dangerous it could actually be.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, about 75,000 pedestrian accidents occur each year. In 2019, the number of pedestrians killed by automobiles was at a record high of 6,590, and about 63%, or 4,200 of the deaths, were due to the pedestrians being distracted and not paying attention.

Similarly, a study by Arizona State University, determined that in about 80% of 7,000 car accidents involving pedestrians in Florida, the pedestrian was actually the one at fault, not the driver.

In almost every state now, it is illegal to text while driving, but what about texting while walking or crossing the street?

Walking and crossing the street while on the phone or texting should be illegal. Not only is it dangerous for the pedestrian, the act can be dangerous to drivers, too. By implementing laws against distracted walking while texting, not only would it keep pedestrians safe, it could potentially prevent many accidents from occurring in the first place.

Could there ever be a safe time or place to cross the street while texting? Well maybe at a signalized intersection where all directions of traffic are stopped so that pedestrians get the right of way at crosswalks. But even then, are you willing to take the risk that the motorist approaching the intersection is not distracted and does not notice the red light?

In 2017, the city of Honolulu, Hawaii, passed a new law that would allow police to fine pedestrians $35 to $150 for crossing the street while being distracted by an electronic device. “This is really a milestone legislation that sets the bar high for safety,” said Brandon Elefante, the City Council member who proposed the bill in early 2017. He mentioned that pedestrians will have to share the responsibility for their safety with motorists. This has led to a noticeable decrease in pedestrian accidents. A poll taken said that 90% support the law and believe that it will make the streets safer.

Texting while walking should be banned as it can result in serious accidents potentially leading to death. By implementing laws in our cities, it will make pedestrians more aware of their surroundings and will force them to pay attention while crossing busy roads.

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