Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that they still make up nearly 15 percent of the total traffic fatalities in the U.S. Fifteen percent may not seem that high, but it means that almost 5,000 walkers are needlessly killed each year, and thousands more are injured—all because people just aren’t paying attention.
It’s easy to push all the blame on the drivers, since their vehicles cause the most damage and pedestrians usually have the right of way. However, it isn’t always the driver’s fault. Actually, the truly sad part about all of this, is that a lot of pedestrian crashes are actually caused by the pedestrian.
It isn’t just drivers who need the refresher course in observation safety—pedestrians need it just as much, if not more.
Why Pedestrian Distractions Are Dangerous
As a result of new technology, faster smart phones, and the so-called information age, hand-held distractions are wreaking havoc on people’s ability to pay attention. Instead of seeing, acknowledging, and reacting to the world around us, we have our eyes fixated on our phone and tablet screens, and our ears plugged into headphones. It’s no wonder so many pedestrians are injured—they never even see the danger coming, let alone have the time to react to protect themselves.
Pedestrian distractions, such as phones, tablets, readers, and music devices all have the same thing in common: they decrease your senses and put you in danger. A few of the way these distractions accomplish this are by:
- Limiting your peripheral vision. If your head is down and you’re staring at a small screen, movement and potential threats can go unnoticed around you until it’s too late.
- Making you rely on others to watch out for you. When your focus is entirely consumed on your device, the people around you need to pay more attention to you—in order to prevent your carelessness from affecting them. You’ll continue to walk in a straight line, while others are forced to move around you, side step you, or veer into the street to avoid you.
- Limiting your ability to register possible dangers. If you can’t see, or you’re deliberately not paying attention to what is around you, you’re also deliberately ignoring potential dangers that could get you killed.
- Taking control out of your hands. If you can’t see the danger—you can’t take precautions to protect yourself.
- Decreases sensory perception. Although phones and tablets obviously decrease your visibility, they aren’t the only things that cause distraction. Headphones and loud music can also cause you to not be able to hear sounds of impending danger, such as horns honking or screeching brakes.
Paying Attention to Protect Yourself
You shouldn’t be forced to worry about your safety every time you decide to take a leisurely walk. However, you shouldn’t completely dismiss safety, or increase your odds of a crash either. If you must wear headphones or use your tablet, make sure you’re continuing to pay attention to traffic, people, and the world around you. Remember, the only person who should be looking after you 100 percent of the time—is you. Don’t let yourself down.
Do you want to protect your friends and family from a pedestrian crash? You can use your social media connections to keep your loved ones safe and our roads clear, by sharing this page with them on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. You never know when a bit of information may make a difference in how someone protects himself. Help give him that information. Share now!