The world looks totally different when you have a soundtrack to your daily street pattern. People around you seem to be moving in sync to the beat of “Superfreak.”
Then you transport yourself to a happy place where Shakira is dancing or John Lennon is imagining a better world. But suddenly, you stop dead in your tracks, realizing you’re in the middle of Broad Street and an unhappy driver just flew by within an inch of you.
Listening to headphones, talking on a cell phone and text messaging while walking can be dangerous. Sen. Carl Kruger, D-N.Y., figured New Yorkers are not aware of the dangers of “e-walking” and proposed a bill that, if turned into law, would prohibit pedestrians from using electronic devices while crossing the street. E-walkers who fail to pocket their cell phones or take off their headphones would be fined $100.As soon as news of the bill broke, so did waves of discontent.
Bloggers accused the senator of being a nanny to the general public, wondering where the legislation would end in terms of what else pedestrians would be prohibited to do and slamming the bill as ridiculous and unnecessary.
Mary Cate Gordon, a Temple law student, agrees with the unhappy bloggers.
She said the policy “might have legitimate
causes” because people get distracted
while listening to their iPods. “But the law would be too much government invasion of personal space,” she said. “What’s next? You can’t read a book or talk on a cell phone while you are standing on a sidewalk, waiting to cross the street? It’s a slippery slope.”
Before the existence of iPods and cell phones, newspapers, books and daydreams of loved ones took over the minds of pedestrians. Before the existence of automobiles, horses pulled heavy carriages through the streets. Ever since street transport and pedestrians co-existed, accidents occured.
Of course, cell phones and iPods distract pedestrians and divert their focus from street action, but common sense is all pedestrians need to remain safe.
Paying attention and being aware of one’s surroundings is extremely important.
Campus Safety Services included a note on its Walk, Don’t Talk program in its annual security report. Jessica Morrison, a student at Community College of Philadelphia, said she stopped listening to her iPod on the city’s streets after she almost got into an accident while crossing the street with her headphones on.
She is not sure if government interference is such a great idea, but she believes people should be more careful on the streets.
Government authorities can only do so much. Installing security cameras in the city, constantly patrolling the streets and controlling traffic can help pedestrians,
but these precautions mean nothing if people are not paying attention and watching what’s going on around them. Kruger’s proposed legislation could mean a $100 fine to anyone talking on cell phones while crossing the street, but the fine would probably be seen as a nuisance and the punished e-walker would continue to use their gadgets as soon as the ticket disappears into his or her pocket.
Keeping out of harm’s way is a person’s
own responsibility. So pay attention, turn the music down and stay safe.
Natalya Bucuy can be reached at email@example.com.