Most traffic safety campaigns focus on distracted driving. And that’s certainly worthwhile: With the rise of cellphones, distractions behind the wheel have reached epidemic levels.
Yet another dangerous behavior often gets overlooked: distracted walking.
Walking with a cellphone in hand is second-nature for many of us. We’ve all done it: scrolled through our phones while strolling across the street or approaching an intersection on foot. Even though we feel like we’re masters of multitasking, the reality is that it’s impossible to devote your full attention to two things at once. Glancing at your cellphone while walking in traffic, even for a moment, can kill you.
As a pedestrian, it’s easy to acquire a false sense of security. We make loads of assumptions about drivers. We assume they’re paying attention, that they see us, that they’ll stop at the red light or stop sign, that they’ll yield when we enter the crosswalk. These assumptions can be deadly.
Alarming crash data
Colorado crash statistics reflect that cellphones play a role in pedestrian deaths. Since 2010, fatal pedestrian accidents across Colorado have steadily risen, more than doubling in 2017.
Pedestrian deaths spiked across the Denver metro last summer. Aurora police took a novel approach in response, distributing flyers to pedestrians in high-risk areas like Anschultz Medical Campus, where cars, students, employees and patients all converge. Other accident hotspots include Sixth and Peoria near Del Mar Park and South Havana Street, where heavy motor and foot traffic combine with high speeds to produce hazardous conditions.
Even relatively slow-moving traffic can mean near-certain death for pedestrians. In 90 percent of car-pedestrian collisions where the vehicle is traveling 40 mph, the pedestrian doesn’t survive.
The takeaway is simple: Whether you’re behind the wheel or on foot, pay attention. Put your cellphone away – it can wait.