As children we often received crucial pieces of advice from parents and caregivers before venturing out; one such piece of advice being “look both way before crossing the street”. Why is it then, that as older pedestrians these words of caution seem to have gone by the wayside as many cast their focus on a device in hand rather than the roadway before them?
We have seen the damages that can arise from drivers distracted by their cell phones, but are pedestrians contributing to an ever-growing problem of road safety when they too are distracted by their mobile phones?
Liberal MPP for Etobicoke Centre, Yvan Baker is trying to address this concern with a private member’s bill that was introduced in October of 2017 known as the “Phone Down, Heads Up Act”. This bill would ban pedestrians from crossing the road while holding and using a wireless communication device, electronic entertainment device, or other prescribed device. Exceptions to this would be anyone using a phone to contact emergency services or continuing a phone call that was already in progress prior to crossing. If the bill is enacted into law, offenders could be served a $50 fine on the first offence. The amount would increase to $75 on a second offence, and $125 on a third and subsequent violations.
The proposed bill has been met with both support and opposition with some calling it redundant when laws already exist that determine whether pedestrians or motorists have the right-of-way; saying that distracts from the main causes of pedestrian injuries, which have been identified as distracted driving, driver error, and unsafe road infrastructure; and that handing out tickets for distracted walking would be considered a waste of resources.
Despite the opposition, the intent of Baker’s proposed legislation is keep pedestrians safe. As the debate over the private members bill continues we remind you, whether behind the wheel or on foot to always exercise caution on the roadways and if you have suffered injury due to distracted driving our team is here to help.