The perils of texting, driving — and walking

In the pursuit of all things driving, I’m asking you to take into consideration the unpredictable nature of pedestrians.

Bad driving habits translate directly into bad walking habits, and while you risk rear-ending another car by texting and driving, a texting pedestrian risks getting struck by a car. And as I’ve said on many occasions, a collision between a vehicle and a person rarely results in a draw.

Pedestrians come in all shapes, sizes and ability. Some are fleet of foot, some are slow and some are completely oblivious to their surroundings. The next time you are out, take a look around you. Really look at drivers and pedestrians. Notice the drivers who are paying attention, and are courteous and skilled behind the wheel. Try to emulate them.

Also check out the pedestrians. Even if you ignore people talking on cellphones, I’m willing to bet that within a few minutes you will observe someone with their attention completely focused on the electronic communication device clamped between their hands, their thumbs flying over their Qwerty keyboards. Be aware of these folks, because they will surely not be aware of you.

For some reason, it appears the act of texting and walking completely overrides a person’s ability to sense anything around them.

Other pedestrians, cars, obstacles, hazards, intersections and an awareness of basic personal safety become secondary to a person lost in the world of instant messaging, and this is when they become the most unpredictable.

Take, for instance, the woman who was completely engrossed in her text message conversation.

She was standing on the corner and waiting for the light to change. Ninety-nine per cent of her attention was on her phone and one per cent on the traffic lights. When a light turned green, the woman stepped off the curb. Too bad it was the wrong light and the wrong time to step into oncoming traffic. She had seen the light change but had not registered the light was for opposing traffic, not for her. She realized her mistake when a car clipped her extended purse, and she leaped back to the sidewalk.

Or take the fellow who was so involved in typing on his phone’s tiny little keyboard that he walked directly into another pedestrian and nearly flattened her.

So yes, texting and driving is dangerous, but so is texting and walking.

This means there is twice the onus on drivers to pay attention for those who do not have the sense to pay attention for themselves.

Vancouver police Const. Sandra Glendinning blogs at Her opinions aren’t necessarily those of the city’s police department or board.

Photograph by: Chris Watti, Reuters