Listen up, cellphone zombies
For years now, the perils of texting while walking have been alarmingly clear. Just check out all the videos of people falling into fountains, bumping into walls or getting clipped by turning cars while their eyes are riveted to the screen.
Everyone is aware. Few change their behavior.
OK, no one does. What to do? Lawmakers in Honolulu and elsewhere have alighted on a solution: Pass a law! Outlaw texting or talking on a smartphone in crosswalks and ticket violators.
We’d like to say that Chicago officials, for instance, snorted with derision -- Chicago, home of jaywalkers! -- and dismissed such foolishness as a potential distraction for police who have far more important duties.
Unfortunately, not. Aldermen Edward Burke, 14th, and Anthony Beale, 9th, propose to slap fines of up to $500 on pedestrians caught texting or using a cellphone while walking through an intersection.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he is studying the “distracted walking” issue. “Everybody does it, and then everybody’s irritated when somebody else does it,” he says. Exactly.
We don’t dismiss the dangers of walking while texting. People do get hurt. They veer off course or dawdle while the light changes. Or they step into the crosswalk prematurely. With smartphones ramping up ever-more attractive and addictive features, this promises to get worse.
Remember the Pokemon Go! craze a couple of years ago? People hunted characters such as Pikachu and Squirtle on the streets and elsewhere in the real world. There were wipeouts. The game was so absorbing that people fell into holes, twisted ankles, took nasty skateboard spills, bounded into revolving doors and trees.
But enforcing such a law looks to be virtually impossible. And $500?
Crossing the street in Chicago demands quick instincts and exquisite leg-eye coordination. Some drivers think the pedestrian crosswalk is for target practice.
Others just keep creeping into the crosswalk to menace walkers, as if they should have right-turn-on-red right-of-way at all times. (This is where certain hand gestures prove handy.)
Bulletin to all you people at the wheel of a 4,000-pound vehicle: You are are supposed to yield to the people on two legs, even if their noses are buried in a smartphone.
Other sidewalk hazards abound. In the winter, ice and slush pool at the curb to create a steeple-jump situation for daredevil walkers.
Refraining from texting or talking distractedly, particularly in crosswalks, is a spectacularly good idea. We wish more people would do that. We’ve almost collided with some of them.So watch where you’re going, everyone. And, yes, we’ll try to take our own advice.