EDITORIAL: Watch where we’re walking

More and more, it's becoming evident that drivers are not the only ones who are distracted on the road.

Drivers distracted by their cellphones are routinely lambasted for the dangerous activity, and rightly so.

The risks of engaging in the practice are huge, even if it’s only for a moment – in short, it’s life-threatening; the second-leading cause of car-crash fatalities in B.C., according to ICBC.

But more and more, it’s becoming evident that drivers are not the only ones who are distracted on the road.

Pedestrians, too, are guilty of the practice, of not paying attention to where they are going and the dangers around them.

The fact is, pedestrians have an important role to play in their own safety, and activities such as talking and texting while crossing roads is risky business.

Too often, pedestrians can be seen simply continuing their pilgrimage across a busy intersection or crosswalk with their eyes glued to their cellphones. And while they may afford a short glance up to confirm that they have the signal to cross, they forge ahead without a second thought to checking if drivers have actually seen them.

Anyone who has been a pedestrian can attest to the reality that drivers don’t always see them, and can easily cite close calls they’ve experienced or witnessed as a result.

But by the same token, many drivers can recount incidents of pedestrians simply stepping out in front of moving vehicles, oblivious to anything save the message they’re busily composing or reading on their smartphone.

The habit can be similarly frustrating – though far less life-threatening – in stores and shopping centers, when people focused on their phones plow into those walking ahead of them.

Some of ICBC’s tips for drivers can easily be applied to pedestrians who are navigating busy streets: leave your phone alone; and if you do need to use it, pull over to a safe, out-of-the-way location to do so.

Penalties already exist for jaywalking. Perhaps additional penalties should be considered for pedestrians who put themselves and others at risk because they won’t take their eyes off their cellphones.

The bottom line is, safety is everyone’s responsibility, whether they’re behind the wheel or out for a stroll, and no text or phone call is worth someone’s life or limbs.

We would all be well-served to hone our focus.

 

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