How to Prevent Distracted Walking

We devote a lot of time discussing how to prevent driver distraction, but there’s another epidemic that leads to motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians – walking while distracted. Sadly, some people have sustained significant injuries or worse as a result of being preoccupied while pounding the pavement. Last year, ICBC and local RCMP took steps to crackdown on distracted walking, launching awareness campaigns and advising pedestrians to be more mindful. Plus, with over 60 percent of Canadians in support of distracted walking legislation, don’t be surprised if certain activities come with hefty fines in the near future. Today, Park Insurance is here to help reduce the risk of being involved in an accident due to your own sidewalk/crosswalk diversions.

Four Ways Pedestrians Can Reduce Their Risk of Accidents

Keep Your Phone in Your Pocket

We ask drivers to keep their phones in their trunk and we plead for pedestrian to do the same. Put your mobile device in your back pocket when circling the block on foot, or put it in your purse, bag, or backpack. Just a few short years ago you got by just fine without having to check your phone while running errands, so let’s give nostalgia a chance as you enjoy the sights and sounds of your city, especially those that warn you of an approaching vehicle, motorcycle, cyclist, scooter, or even skateboarder. If you get a call or text while crossing the road, wait until you cross and are in a safe space before taking it out of your pocket. If you need to respond, do so in the safe space and then let the person on the other line know that you will continue your conversation once you get to your destination.

What if you are using bluetooth? The act of engaging in conversation is in itself a distraction, but more importantly bluetooth-connected headphones add an even greater level of accident risk. Keep reading.  

No Headphones Zone

We know, the whole point of headphones is to keep you in a state of groovy bliss while walking from A to B to C, but the reality is that it puts you in harms way. With headphones in, you block out or significantly reduce your ability to pickup on noise that alerts you to danger when crossing a road or bike path, be it a revving engine, honking horn, ringing bell, or driver/cyclist vocalization. Noise-cancelling headphones are the most dangerous, but even inserted earbuds with music on-pause can limit your ability to heed warnings and cause an accident. Whether Beats-by-Dre, AirPods, or retro-hipster WalkMan headphones you’re advised to keep them tucked into your bag until you get to the gym, designated running track, office, or home.

Pushback on Push Notifications

Beyond calls and texts your pocketed phone may distract you while walking when you have a number of push notifications to contend with. You may be receiving them from your social network profiles, online media subscriptions, or other smartphone applications. Before you leave your home or office, go into the phone’s settings and switch off notifications for all apps except those that are critical to you, like time-sensitive work-related apps.

Backup Precautions

Following the advise above will significantly mitigate your potential for being a distracted pedestrian. However, a sudden text, call, or holler from a pal across the road can run you off course and have you forget your new pledge. Because of this, it’s important to arm yourself with backup precautions so that drivers can spot you. 

For one, wear bright clothing when going out at night and during weather that impacts road visibility. Ideally you’d wear reflective clothing, but we know that doesn’t sound all that appealing to the fashion conscious. Still, it’s a good idea to add a reflective accessory. Take the City of Kamloops as an example, where this month volunteers and officers began handing out reflective bracelets to pedestrians to keep them safe when crossing the road and walking along rural pathways. On that latter note, avoid walking along roadsides without defined sidewalks and be sure to understand the responsibility that you accept when you do navigate off the beaten path on foot. Section 182 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act states that if there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian walking along or on a highway must walk only on the extreme left side of the roadway or the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction. View more on whether or not pedestrians have the right of way when walking in a no-sidewalk zone.

Stay safe out there!