Smartphones, headphones, and the bane of distracted walking

'Younger kids are usually more careful than teens and adults'

It is a common sight these days: people walking across a street, staring down at their smartphone or listening intently to their headphones, completely unaware of their surroundings.

For Alex Avery, it’s a trend he sees every day. A crossing guard at the intersection of Danforth and Chester avenues, he said nearly half of the people he sees are distracted by something.

“Some people don’t even notice me when they pass by,” Avery joked. “It is a little worrying to see, because you never know what could happen, you know? I mean, there is a light in this intersection, but there are others that rely just on a crossing guard, and if maybe one of us isn’t there one day, it could be really dangerous.”

When it comes to distracted walking, people might assume that younger pedestrians are the ones who are always on their phones. Not so, said Avery.

“I see older people doing it, too, all the time. It’s a bit odd, but I would even say that younger kids are usually more careful than teens and adults when it comes to paying attention while crossing the street.”

Sgt. Brett Moore of the Toronto Police’s traffic services said he is unaware of any records being kept of distracted walking. Drivers, he said, are the ones responsible for being attentive to anything on the road.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility, and all road users are encouraged to show courtesy and communicate with others, but as a driver it is their responsibility to be aware and anticipate things coming at them,” Moore said.

Part of the reason there are no records on distracted walking is because there are no laws against it. Distracted driving is a bigger problem than walking, as it poses more of risk to other people, Moore said.

“Only one (the distracted driver) has laws that prohibit this action, and for good reason,” he said. “Distracted driving is a leading cause of collisions and injuries.”

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Posted: Dec 4 2018 12:22 pm
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