Thursday, May 23, 2013
Busy intersections should have three light-up signs for pedestrians -- "walk," "don't walk" and "Hey! Wake Up!"
The Associated Press reports that injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years, and there probably are many more that go undocumented.
To blame are the same magic communication devices that lure drivers hurtling down the highway to take their eyes off the road so they can type a quick email with their thumbs. Maine and other states have responded by passing distracted driving laws and federal agencies have launched mass communication campaigns telling people they are risking their lives and others' with this reckless behavior. The message is spreading even if the habit is hard to break.
Watching where you are walking goes without saying, doesn't it? Smart phones might be new technology, but mothers have been telling their children to look both ways before crossing the street since there have been streets. Do we really need a publicly funded public service advertising campaign to reinforce the first piece of advice most people got the first time they walked to kindergarten?
We don't need a law telling people not to write a letter or read a magazine while they are crossing the street, but will we need some kind of official intervention to stop people from doing the electronic versions of the same activities?
Cell phones equipped with Internet access, video screens and headphones are amazing devices that enable people access to stunning amounts of information, allowing them to communicate or be entertained from virtually any spot on Earth. But that doesn't mean that they should access it from every spot on Earth.
There are times when paying attention to things like, say, cars and trucks -- which may have text-obsessed drivers -- might be more important than catching up on the latest stock market report.
Somehow pedestrians need to get this message.