The dangers of driving a 4000 pound car at 60 mph while texting are plainly obvious to most people. What isn’t fully appreciated are the dangers of distracted walking. Without situational awareness, most environments are hazardous. Texting, cell phone calls, and other forms of mobile device use deprive or seriously degrade situational awareness.
Distracted pedestrians have stepped in front of moving cars and trains, fallen into open manholes, and walked into walls, poles, and other objects. Pedestrian distraction is especially dangerous in parking lots, roads, construction areas, and in urban areas.
Even when the eyes are looking ahead while using a cell phone, people may become so preoccupied with their conversation that they suffer from “inattention blindness” in which visual input from their eyes doesn’t register in their brain. Phone conversations cause the brain to process imaginary imagery at the expense of processing visual input from the eyes.
Likewise, earphones are a dangerous distraction because they prevent the user from hearing sirens, car horns, accelerating cars and trucks, and other auditory warning signals. Like the distracted cell phone user, the person with earphones may also suffer from “inattention blindness” and not fully process what his eyes see.
Distracted Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Don’t walk, text, or talk at the same time. When you must use a mobile device, find a safe spot away from traffic, other pedestrians, and construction or other work activity.
- Focus on your walking. Safely navigating your way through a busy urban setting requires your eyes, ears, and mental focus.
- Put your mobile device and/or earphones away when walking along or crossing a street. Use crosswalks where available and pay attention to the walk/don’t walk signals. Exercise the same caution when walking in parking lots, which have less predictable traffic patterns.
- If you are driving, assume that pedestrians can’t see or hear you, and may do unpredictable things. Slow down when driving near them, and yield to them when they are in the street.
Walk safely by focusing 100% of your attention on the hazards around you. If in spite of this, you or a loved one were injured by a motorist while walking, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your legal options. Contact us at The Clardy Law Firm for a no-cost consultation.