Will Texting While Walking Bans Help or Hurt?

Discussion in 'Traffic and Safety' started by xcel, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    This is a straight up PR from a group not worth mentioning as they are in it for the $'s. The story is solid so here it is:

    Texting while walking is on the increase and so are the number of accidents and "near misses". How bad is the problem? And is legislation the answer? New stats released show that the problem isn't going away and how some cities are struggling to come up with a solution.

    Helps or Hurts?

    We cannot legislate awareness or common sense. If texting and walking are banned and a driver strikes a pedestrian who is texting while walking, distribution of liability for the accident may change drastically.

    We all know about the bans on texting while driving, but what about the increase of incidents of texting while walking? A recent incident shows a video of a woman tripping and falling into a fountain at a local mall. We may laugh at the YouTube videos that show people running into others or bumping into things while they are on their mobile phones, but the serious injuries resulting from such behavior is on the rise.

    Just last year (2011), there were 1,152 people treated in hospitals and ERs for incidents related to texting while walking. And it's not just texting. Researchers revealed that there were 116 confirmed cases of pedestrian fatalities or serious injury while wearing headphones. Two-thirds of them were men under 30 years old and half of them involved trains.

    And even though the traffic fatalities may be down from the year before, pedestrian deaths rose by 4.2% and injuries by 19%.

    Some cities have banned or put fines on texting while walking - Fort Lee, NJ has a "texting while jaywalking" fine and Rexburg, a small college town in Idaho has put a $50 fine on texting while walking.

    Other cities that have tried to impose fines have been unsuccessful. But some are just trying to protect us from ourselves. Philadelphia is drafting a safety campaign that includes signage trying to get people to "look up" while walking. "One of the messages will certainly be 'pick your head up' -- I want to say 'nitwit,' but I probably shouldn't call them names," said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities. Of course, there's no telling if the texters will look up to see the signs.

    Another concern is how effective will legislation be? Will new fines or bans actually decrease the incidents of pedestrian accidents while texting? Jonathan Atkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Assn. stated recently, "We are where we were with cell phone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didn't have the data."

    One study from the Highway Loss Data Institute done on texting while driving bans shows that the laws have NOT resulted in reduced crashes. In fact, in three of the four states studied, accidents actually increased. This could be because drivers are not texting less, they are just lowering their phones to their laps so as not to be noticed. And typically, the increases in crashes were in young adults - younger than 25.

    So what would happen if more texting while walking bans were enacted? Would it result in a decrease of incidents? Or would the texters just find more clever ways to hide their behavior?

  2. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    This constant focus on making everything fool proof and government accountable in the complete absence of personal effort is pure folly. When are people going to start taking responsibility for their own well being? Tech and legislation can't possibly make everyone safe.

    There is something seriously wrong when the result of someone doing something senseless is litigation and more laws instead of society saying, "Gee, that was stupid. Let's take this as an example and make sure our children learn at an early age to think about the consequences of all their actions."

  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    You can't make it foolproof. They'll just come up with better fools. :rolleyes:
  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Sean:

    This story had me thinking a lot about the consequences of texting and walking, driving, flying whatever. With the overwhelming amount of efforts placed on the distracted driving problem which according to the NHTSA accounts for 15 to 20% of all traffic fatalities, why is there not the same push to reduce the 30 to 35% of traffic fatalities due to speeding?

    I saw a tweet by a High Gear media journo about driving his M series Beemer fast and one of the Chrysler PR folks picked it up and retweeted it. I posed the question “Why do auto journalists speed?” And no response was forthcoming.

    Reduce traffic accidents, fatalities, save fuel and $’s. What is not to like about that scenario?

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  5. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Personally, I feel the Darwinistic approach should be used. If you're so stupid as to step out into the street while texting/talking on the phone/listening to your iPod, you deserve to be hit by a car and die. The gene pool will be much better off without you.

    However, using these devices while operating a motor vehicle puts the safety of others at significant risk, and should be prohibited.
  6. CRT1

    CRT1 Newbie McNewbster

    The problem with your approach is that most people don't die as a result of their stupidity, they go into the ICU costing society countless millions $$$. Even if they are insured, somebody is paying for it, and it isn't them.

    The question is how do we collectively make our society less stupid? Can we do this effectively by enacting laws? Can we PSA and educate our way out of this problem?

    If your reply was purely tongue in cheek, please disregard me response. :D
  7. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    There's certainly a phenomema afoot:

    Most work days when I get on the elevator to exit the building I'm soon in the company of several cell phone zombies, texting, reviewing, surfing, not sure what.

    And when walking, you'll see young, supposedly spry folk ahead, but moving at a snail's pace, with heads down and elbows out.

    I think it's impacting parenting skills too (don't ask how I know): Moms or Dads deep in their phones, glancing up occasionally to say "put that skill saw down" or similar.
  8. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    It's actually sensible to have the law. It's not that people will be fined, but simply making it illegal is about the only way clearly to establish fault.
  9. diamondlarry

    diamondlarry Super MPG Man/god :D

  10. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    No, I'm 100% serious. If you're so stupid that you don't know simple stuff like look both ways before crossing the street, Coffee from McDonald's is HOT, and other stuff like that, well I hope you get removed from the genepool in such a manner that you don't take any other innocent lives with you.

    When I was a kid, my mother would have beat my a** till it bled if she saw me attempt to cross the street without checking for traffic. I still do it now. I look left, right, then left again before I cross. (Even more carefully now, because I know I have a huge blind spot in my left eye, but my brain compensates, and fills that blind spot in with what it thinks should be there.) This morning I was going thru the parking lot of a major shopping center, and the majority of pedestrians crossed into traffic without looking at all. Personally, I check for traffic, and if a car is present, I watch it the whole time I'm crossing. These people don't even look once.
  11. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    Are you looking for traffic or your mother?
  12. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    What a stupid idea of a ban. I often look at my phone while I'm walking, although I do look up when I'm crossing a street, or a driveway when a car is approaching.

    This is all just an attempt to distract from the real problem, the one that's ACTUALLY KILLING PEOPLE.

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