Acceptance of distracted driving revealed in warning to pedestrians?

don't walk

While researching a recent pedestrian death in Savannah, I ran across this television news report, which I think deserves to be examined on its own. If I’m hearing him correctly, this is the message delivered by a Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police officer:

“Someone could be looking down at their cellphone. Next thing they know they look up and there’s a kid in the road or a person in the road where they are not supposed to be at. And they don’t have time to stop. And like I said, pedestrians will lose that battle every time.”

Perhaps this short comment from the officer was taken from a longer segment in which he railed against distracted driving. I hope that’s the case and if so, I commend him for it. But if not, it suggests a terribly casual attitude toward an awfully dangerous practice.

Motorists staring at cell phones instead of watching the road are a danger to people in crosswalks, outside of crosswalks, on sidewalks, standing at bus stops or anywhere else. Not to mention cyclists and other motorists. Yet, once again, the most vulnerable users of our streets are scolded about jaywalking, which has become the default explanation for pedestrian deaths even when the cause isn’t entirely clear, as described by Tom Vanderbilt recently here:

“While jaywalking is often cited as a cause of pedestrian accidents, less than 20 percent of fatalities occurred where a pedestrian was crossing outside an easily available crosswalk. And police, who largely tend to be in vehicles, often misinterpret such subtleties or exhibit a pronounced pro-driver bias.”

Meanwhile, distracted driving—which kills nearly 6,000 people a year in this country—seems to be brushed off. The officer is correct when he says pedestrians will always lose, especially if we expect so little of drivers.

Photo by hebedesign via Flickr.

This entry was posted in Transportation on by .

About John Bennett

Transportation, land use, local farming and green building are all potential topics for Sustainable Savannah. The goal is to aggregate content about local events and projects, so there will be a central place to review everything that’s happening. The site is aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing between groups and individuals currently engaged in sustainability efforts. The site can also provide a snapshot of Savannah for green-minded people who are considering visiting or moving to the area.

3 thoughts on “Acceptance of distracted driving revealed in warning to pedestrians?

  1. Bryan Fordham

    I understand what you’re saying. However I don’t see how the statement you quoted above can be interpreted as “a terribly casual attitude.”

    Seems to me it’s a statement of fact: Pedestrians will indeed lose every fight with a car. That fact, which seems to be all he’s saying, is not the same as saying “it’s the pedestrians fault.”

  2. Gargamel

    “Someone could be looking down at their laptop. Next thing they know they look up and they’re overflown Minneapolis by 150 miles.”

    We know what happened to those guys. Why tolerate the same behavior on the road?

  3. John Rob

    Most of us are aware of the danger of using mobile phone when driving. Life is more precious for me than reading a text message. Drivesafe.ly mobile reads the incoming text messages and I concentrate on the road when driving.

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