Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Attention Turns to the Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians"

Fresh on the heals of news that T-Mobile and other mobile phone carriers are serious about providing protection against distracted driving (see my earlier post), the New York Times (January 25, 2011) reports that several states - New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, and Arkansas are named - have passed, tried to pass, or are thinking of passing laws to ban pedestrians and bicyclists from using mobile phones and media players with headphones or ear buds.

A surprising number of people walk or run right in front of a moving car when entranced by their music, often with fatal consequences. The curmudgeon in me just wants to nominate such people for the Darwin Award, but death is an awfully steep penalty for a moment's distraction, and the innocent drivers involved in such collisions must be seriously traumatized.

Before legislation started popping up banning texting while driving, I wondered whether it would be possible or effective simply to define distracted driving as reckless driving. That legal move, plus a good deal of public education, might be a good deterrent. There's probably an analog for bicyclists, but is there for pedestrians?

At any rate, no matter how much we love our devices, and how much actual value they add to our lives, we really shouldn't let them eradicate our good sense.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

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