Don’t text and walk at the same time anymore. Police in the town of Fort Lee New Jersey will now give you a fat $85 ticket if they catch you texting while walking. You might not think texting is a problem for pedestrians but in fact it can cause serious accidents. The little town where this law has just cracked down has 35,000 residents. There have been three fatal pedestrian involved accidents in the town, which is why they implemented the new law. Jay-walkers evidently love to text while jaywalking.
It sounds like the hit movie Footloose where they banned dancing in the town after fatal accidents involving music. It seems like an unreasonable crack down however no-one really understands the dangers that are involved when you walk and text at the same time. Not everyone in the town appreciates the idea of getting a high priced ticket for texting. But it could save lives.
Police have already issued over a hundred tickets to dangerous walkers. Studies have shown that texting disrupts you ability to focus on your surroundings way more than mere talking does. Texters are 60% more likely to stray out of the direction they were originally walking in than non texters. You have to look at the cell phone to text is the problem.
You might be thinking well if a person wants to text and trip off the curb and break their hip because of it then its their own darn problem. But that is not always the case. What if you get roped into an accident because some texter wasn’t looking where they were going? Let’s say you are driving your car and out wanders a texter in a stale yellow crosswalk and you hit them. Then you’re sued for a million dollars for causing a near fatal or fatal accident. You know the adage, the pedestrian has the right of way. Would you not be upset that the person you hit wasn’t watching where they were going? They lingered in the crosswalk texting and then the accident became your fault and you get sued.
There’s something called situational awareness which is an oft used term within the study of human factors. Human factors specialists consider the situational circumstances surrounding accidents. Situational awareness originated in the army where fighter pilots had to be acutely aware of their surroundings. Now, its a commonly used term in the auto insurance industry. The auto industry insists that both drivers and pedestrians are responsible for watching their own surroundings. For example, you don’t walk in back of a car that you know is backup up because you’ve spaced out.
Did you ever consider whose fault it is when a child darts into the road chasing a ball and gets stuck by a car? Negligence is not always 100% ascribed to the driver in these cases. In fact, such a driver may be only responsible for a fraction of the negligence. The rest, is because the mother was not watching her child and allowed it to run into danger. Texters become somewhat like children. They are distracted people who don’t have situational awareness and are losing track of their immediate surroundings.
Texting while walking causes a huge distraction. Your mind become absorbed and can get you into an accident as a consequence of wandering or lingering in traffic lights and so on. You might fall, trip or bump into something. You might walk into an elderly person and knock them down. While your town may not be ticketing for texting and walking yet, you should still exercise situational awareness. You don’t want to cause an accident and put yourself or others through a lot of stress all for a text message.