The danger of texting and driving gets a fair amount of coverage, and rightfully so. Drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared to non-distracted drivers, and when you start using comparison statistics like "checking a text for 5 seconds means that at 90 km/h, you’ve travelled the length of a football field blindfolded," well, it gets scary in a hurry.
But there's another kind of cellphone use that can get one just as dead, and we don't talk about that one at all.
Walking with your head down, engrossed with your phone, can be just as deadly. Don't believe me? Well, I came closer than I liked to killing someone who decided to walk out in front of my car without looking up from her phone at all.
If this young woman had been only 20 feet closer to my car when she decided to jaywalk across the street without looking, she would have been a dent in my bumper.
A lot of people like to say things like "pedestrians have the right of way" when they're excusing stupid behaviour (I'm as furious as I am shaken right now, so yeah I'm not pulling any punches). 1 - At least in Ontario, you only have the right of way if you're following traffic laws. And 2 - You can be right about having the right of way. You can also be dead right.
This was the case of some poor kid who decided to walk across at a crosswalk one night near my friend's house, face in his screen, directly into the path of a vehicle that didn't see him in the dark and failed to notice the crosswalk sign. Car met body, head met curb, and he was done.
His cellphone cost him his life, and a shame that was as he was very likely some young man attending the college one block away.
Whole life was ahead of him, and he died for one of the dumbest of reasons: he wasn't paying attention.
The vehicle was definitely in the wrong. But here's the thing: no matter who's right or wrong, I can guarantee that in a confrontation between a pedestrian and half ton of vehicle, the pedestrian is going to come out the biggest loser.
Many I know will mutter to themselves something like "Darwin at work," or some such, and they won't feel particularly sympathetic about that death or my young woman's near miss. But even stupid deaths cause collateral damage. Even though I probably wouldn't have been at fault if I had been unable to avoid striking her, her behaviour would have caused to harm to me and mine, not to mention her and hers. I guarantee the driver of the vehicle that killed the kid in front of my friend's house won't forget he was responsible for a death anytime soon, accident or no. I wouldn't want that on my head either, whether she "deserved it" or not.
Parents: talk to your kids. Just because they're moving slow doesn't mean that they're safe to tune out and text. Make sure that before you hand your kids a cellphone that they know they should leave it safely in their pockets until they pull over to a safe place and stop.
Even if they're standing on their feet instead of behind the wheel.