Photo by Justin Labelle
There’s the man who was so distracted he fell onto a set of train tracks, the woman who walked right into a mall fountain, and, most hilariously, the dude who ran into a bear without noticing. These incidents, having been caught on camera, went on to become viral videos, but did more than just illustrate how clumsy people can be. Who was at fault in all of the videos? People who were too busy looking at their cellphones instead of where they were going. Their thumbs were leading them straight into danger.
But how hazardous can texting and walking be? Hazardous enough that the city of Fort Lee in New Jersey has decided to start fining people $85 for texting while walking. According to Thomas Ripoli, chief of the Fort Lee Police Department, the city has seen 23 pedestrian accidents since January, and all were texting related.
Cellphone technology has advanced too far for legislation against it, and without more substantial proof from reports about how dangerous walking and texting can really be, it will be a while before texting pedestrians get more than just a slap on the wrist. Distracted-walking bills have been struck down in the U.S. in places like Utah, Arizona, and New York; opposition to these bills has even come from state representatives.
Craig Frank, a Utah state represenative, feels as if distracted walking bills are unnecessary.
“I have a smartphone, too. Walking on sidewalks, in stores, and malls, and maybe in a crosswalk sometimes I’m using my cellphone. But I try to stay connected to my environment. I never thought the government needed to cite me for using my cellphone in a reasonable manner,” he said in an interview with the Huffington Post.
It’s not really that far-fetched for the City of Ottawa to consider issuing fines in an effort to crack down on offending pedestrians. It was only three years ago that the Ministry of Transportation banned the use of handheld devices for drivers—an offence that might need harsher penalties, because this past August the Ottawa police issued 39 infractions to drivers caught texting or calling behind the wheel.
Banned cellphone use while operating a vehicle may have become a norm, we might see the end of texting and walking soon too. And it’s a good thing.
How many of you have bumped into your fellow walkers while being too consumed with your iPhone? How many times have you hit the pavement hard because you were busy tweeting your latest thought to pay attention? It doesn’t take a genius to say: OMG we r putting r selves at risk if we txt & walk!
Personally, I would never risk losing my fingers if it was too cold to text, so why risk my life by texting at a crosswalk?
Craig Frank’s opinion might be the more popular one now, but as more reports are brought forth and, sadly, more pedestrian deaths occur, we could very well see a change in the law.
We’re all intricately connected with the electronic world, and having such technology at our fingertips comes with responsibility. Our smartphones just might be making us stupider.