Distracted walkers are everywhere these days. Take a stroll along any busy street and you’ll see them, checking their phones, sending texts, making a call, and listening to music. Sometimes all at once, or at least it seems that way.
If they’re not bumping into you, they’re bumping into someone else, or causing others to leap out of the way to avoid a collision of limbs. Even worse, distracted walkers sometimes step out into the road without a care in the world, unaware there’s a bus coming right at them.
Perhaps you do it, too. Ever had an accident?
With so many smartphone owners these days apparently unable to resist the unutterable delights of their magical handheld computer, distracted walking incidents are on the rise.
Indeed, for New Jersey Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt the issue has now become so serious she’s proposing a law that would see perpetrators fined $50 or even thrown in the slammer for up to 15 days.
“Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road,” Lampitt said recently.
“An individual crossing the road distracted by their smartphone presents just as much danger to motorists as someone jaywalking and should be held, at minimum, to the same penalty.”
Lampitt said that a law would make distracted walkers “think twice” about losing themselves in their phones, and hopefully persuade them to keep an eye on their surroundings instead.
It’s not been decided if or when a vote will be taken on Lampitt’s bill to make distracted walking an offense in New Jersey, though the politician says she’s happy that the proposal alone is giving the issue some publicity.
The results of a study at the end of last year by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) showed that 78 percent of American adults now regard distracted walking as a “serious” issue. Interestingly, while 74 percent of the respondents said “other people” are usually or always walking while distracted, only 29 percent actually admitted to engaging in the practice themselves.
“Today, the dangers of the ‘digital deadwalker’ are growing with more and more pedestrians falling down stairs, tripping over curbs, bumping into other walkers, or stepping into traffic causing a rising number of injuries, from scrapes and bruises to sprains and fractures,” AAOS spokesperson Alan Hilibrand said.
To reduce the chances of a nasty accident happening, the AAOS suggests keeping music at a volume where you can still hear the noise of traffic, and to “look up, not down, especially when stepping off or onto curbs or in the middle of major intersections; and/or when walking or approaching on stairs or escalators.”