For regular readers you’ll know my passion for safer roads. I try to allow drivers to think about possible situations before they happen so they can be mentally ready to respond. I talk about cyclist, pedestrians and not just drivers and their passengers. I think this time I need to go back to pedestrians. We’ve heard so much about distracted driving within our society over the past few years, but what about distracted walking?
Two of my four kids have cell phones and I’ve warned them about texting while walking. We know it happens, but when should they text? I’ve asked them to avoid texting while walking across the street. The danger is that their mind is on the text message and not the traffic. To ‘sell’ this idea to them, I’ve asked them if they’ve ever had to quickly move out of the crosswalk because a vehicle was coming toward them. Both of my kids with cell phones have said they have, so it was an easy sell to them that drivers don’t always pay attention when they’re near crosswalks.
It seems like each day I drive that I find pedestrians walking and texting through crosswalks. Were they even aware I was nearby? I’ve spotted some pedestrians texting with their head down and the ‘don’t walk’ symbol showing in the crosswalk. Did they notice the pedestrian light? It was a good thing I noticed it. Would other drivers notice it?
As a community we need to work together. As parents we teach our kids how to be safe while near the road. This would include texting while walking. It’s also common to see pedestrians walking with their ear buds in their ears. Can they hear you honk to warn them of your approach? I also teach my kids to pay attention to traffic if they’re listening to music while walking. It’s so distracting if we’re involved with music or texting and forget to check to see if it’s clear to cross.
As a driver, we must remember that not all pedestrians are drivers and therefore don’t think like drivers. They won’t necessarily look before stepping off the curb, especially if they are distracted by texting or talking on their cell phones or by listening to music.
Let’s teach our kids to be better pedestrians and reinforce it with them regularly. Let’s also look for those pedestrians who just may turn into a distracted driver because they’ve started their life as a distracted pedestrian. Make sure you’re ready to stop for them or communicate to them to get them to stop. Either way, we can work together to keep our communities safe.