Opinion

EDITORIAL: Distracted walking

A new poll shows 66 per cent of Canadians support a ban on texting while walking, as the City of Toronto considered in the summer.

In Pitt Meadows on Saturday, police, as part of a pedestrian safety event with the city and ICBC, will warn about the dangers of “distracted walking.”

We don’t deny they are real.

“Remove headphones, and don’t venture onto streets while talking or texting on your phone,” is the word from the RCMP.

Of course. Especially when it gets dark out earlier these days. But to ban such behaviour, to police or penalize it, is absurd.

In Toronto, however, city council passed a motion in July to change the Highway Traffic Act, prohibiting actively using a hand-held wireless communication device or hand-held electronic entertainment device while on any travelled portion of a roadway.

New Jersey has a similar bill. Calgary thought about a bylaw, but nothing came of it. Some on Vancouver council support the same.

While crashes involving pedestrians have historically gone up as daylight hours decrease during the fall and winter months, and that 70 per cent of those occur at intersections, more often than not it is the drivers who were distracted, not the other way around.

Tell pedestrians to make eye contact with motorists, to wear bright clothing and stay focused on the road. But would police ticket someone for glancing down at a text while in a controlled crosswalk?

We understand the risks, as there are with listening to music while jogging, or walking your dog while rollerblading, drinking coffee while driving. But some behaviours require only common sense, maybe a reminder, but not penalties.

Accidents happen. We can’t prevent them all, especially with bylaws that are next to impossible to enforce.

– Black Press

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