Here we go into the darkest months of the year when pedestrian/vehicular crashes usually spike and the very surprising and rather aptly named season of “Pedestrian shaming” begins. A poll of Canadians showed that an estimated 66 per cent of respondents agreed with a ban on texting while walking. In fact, the City of Toronto considered instituting such a ban and debated it at Council. The Toronto City Council had changed the Highway Traffic Act to prohibit using “a hand-held wireless communication device or hand-held electronic entertainment device while on any travelled portion of a roadway”.
Even British Columbia’s Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has teamed up with the RCMP to hold an event on the dangers of distracted walking. “Remove headphones, and don’t venture onto streets while talking or texting on your phone,” is the word from the RCMP.
Kudos to The Abbotsford News for having the temerity to point out that blaming the pedestrian will not likely increase behavioural compliance and may indeed be a misuse of scarce policing resources. The lack of driver focus and attention appears to be more the issue according to a report in the New York Times. Highway fatalities in the United States “recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration“.
Why? “Insurance companies, which closely track auto accidents, are convinced that the increasing use of electronic devices while driving is the biggest cause of the rise in road fatalities, according to Robert Gordon, a senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. The use of “apps” is a serious safety concern as cars become entertainment centres as well as a conveyance.
It would be a better resourcing of time to concentrate less on pedestrian distraction and focus on why there are 70 per cent of all pedestrian vehicular crashes at intersections-visibility, street design, speed, and driver behaviour. Give the pedestrian the reminder to be cautious and visible, and focus enforcement on vehicles. Pedestrian and cyclist lives depend on that.