It’s crazy out there…phones, cars, and pedestrians. Heads up and more.
Dear Ms. Smartphone: I read that this column was originally about distracted driving. Well, how about distracted pedestrians? I live in the city and when I take the car out there are scooters and bikes to avoid, but the most dangerous seem to be the pedestrians who jaywalk and never look up from their phones. These people don’t pay any attention to the road! Conner,San Francisco
It’s grim. Your only choice as an urban driver is to be uber-cautious and reduce your speed. In cities, I think humans now need to drive as if they were an autonomous car. They should have super-sensors, be programmed to give way to pedestrians (right or wrong), and travel at or below the posted speed limit. Fewer right-on-red turns would help too.
Calling Situational Awareness
When pedestrians use phones they have reduced situational awareness and distracted attention. A 2008 safety study gave 30 pedestrians mobile phones to talk on and another 30 pedestrians mobile phones to hold while walking on a prescribed route. The research team planted five obtrusive objects along the route. Pedestrians conversing on the mobile phones recalled fewer of the objects than did those holding a phone but not conversing. There’s a lot more research since then on reduced situational awareness from phones. The findings apply to both pedestrians and drivers. Imagine when both type of journey makers never register seeing one another!
Boot Camp for Peds
Here’s an expression that recruits to military boot camp learn: WALK TALL, WALK PROUD, HEAD UP, EYES FORWARD. For pedestrians, it’s a 21st century update to the old adage ‘look-left, look-right’ before crossing.
Some communities will let private citizens upload pictures of traffic violations..what’s next?
Dear Ms. Smartphone: I read an article about people using smartphones to take pictures of traffic violations, and then forwarding these pictures to a city department that will issue tickets. Is everyone going to be reporting everyone else? Do you think this is a good use of our smartphones? Gregor, Marin City
Dear Gregor : In this case, the devil will be in the details. The NYT article reports that law enforcement officials in Washington, DC are considering this program because traffic fatalities and serious injuries have been on the rise since 2015. (Speculation here, but is this related to more distracted driving and cell phones?)
Dear Ms. Smartphone: I noticed that you often take questions about drivers using phones. How about the case when a passenger uses their phone in the car, but someone else is driving them? Is this a safety issue or is it OK to do? TT, San Francisco