Thursday, 27 September 2012

Don't chew gum and walk at the same time

Of course, we're kidding about that...but what does chewing gum and walking at the same time have in common with walking around with your nose in a book? If you guessed “walking plus something” you guessed correctly. While it may seem strange to devote a post to walking, stick with us for a few moments more and you're sure to see the logic of doing this.

We hear a whole lot about distracted driving, but not as much about distracted walking. While it may be argued that there is no comparison between the dangers involved in walking and those involved in driving, this hardly seems a reason to dismiss the dangers associated with walking altogether; it is, after all, a form of transportation. And much like driving, it can be abused. Recently, the number of pedestrian injuries involving youth between the ages of 16 and 19 years has skyrocketed. The non-profit organization, Safe Kids Worldwide, determined that there was actually a 25% increase in those injuries from 2006 to 2010. 

The reason? According to Safe Kids Worldwide, youth are growing more and more preoccupied with their personal electronic devices. While that statement hardly comes as a surprise to most people, what is staggering is the fact that the degree of distraction is enough to be causing them harm. Certainly, we expect that distracted drivers are likely to make errors that cause them to hit pedestrians, but we don't often think of it the other way around, where the culpability rests with the pedestrian. However, this is precisely what is happening. 

Pedestrians who are distracted by electronics-related tasks like texting are not stopping to survey intersections before stepping out into them. They're simply drifting along, regardless of whether it is their turn or not. The oncoming traffic, for whom it is the right of way, is traveling at a much higher speed comparatively, and thus will have little to no time to react accordingly. The result? A devastating accident with increased insurance rates—both of which were entirely preventable.

For the most part, people like to root for the underdog. We side with Davids over Goliaths. We prefer the cause of the little guy over the big one...but in the car-pedestrian relationship, it isn't that simple. We can't continue to assume that because the car is bigger—and therefore capable of more damage—it must somehow be more culpable than the comparatively small pedestrian. It's time we do our part as pedestrians to make the roads safer for all.


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