By April 30, 2018, drivers on the streets of Chicago had already struck and killed 18 pedestrians, according to statistics brought forward by Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Transportation. These tragic occurrences not only transpire in Chicago, of course, but in practically any city in the world to a varying degree.
While the dangers of distracted drivers has been known for quite a while, now distracted pedestrians pose a very real threat to the safety of everyone on the roads. Distracted pedestrians are those people seen everyday making calls, writing messages, playing games, checking out applications, listening to music, searching the internet, scrolling through email, and more all while crossing the street, walking, or exiting a bus or uber.
The percentage of distracted pedestrians is already staggering and is increasing every day along with the use of mobile devices. These pedestrians who are busy on their phone are not paying attention to their surroundings. Navigating traffic, crossing busy intersections or exiting a vehicle are all risky, and all the more so when the person is not fully focused. As such, these distracted pedestrians pose a serious safety risk to themselves, other pedestrians and the drivers.
“Nearly 30 percent of pedestrians observed in a recent study performed distracting activities on their phones or other electronic devices while crossing high-risk intersections,” according to a blog post from Bradshaw Law LLC which specializes in traffic accidents. Not surprisingly, pedestrian traffic fatalities in the United States rose 11 percent in one year, reaching 5,376 in 2015. Additionally, about 1,500 pedestrians are seen in emergency rooms yearly for injuries resulting from distracted walking.
Some cities like the Southern California City of Montclair have banned “dangerous behavior” including texting while walking, looking down at their phones while crossing a street, talking on the phone or having headphones in both ears. The ban, posted on the city’s website, took effect in January 2018.
“Like drivers, pedestrians have always been engaged in multi-tasking behavior such as the use of handheld phones, music listening devices, and other electronic devices,” the notice states. “The effects of such behavior can relate to that of a distracted driver. Distracted drivers differ from distracted pedestrians in the fact that distracted driving has policies and interventions in place to improve safety, where such safety measures are not in effect for pedestrians.”
While currently the penalty is fines if the tragic trend continues more severe consequences may likely go into effect.