REID: Time to crack down on distracted walking

Let’s hold everyone responsible for their actions on the road – behind the wheel of a vehicle, or not. And let’s give it some teeth.

Amy Reid is staff writer with the Now. She can be reached at

Ever seen someone so mesmerized by something on their phone that they walk straight into a pole?

How about someone stepping into a crosswalk without so much as glancing up from their cell, nearly escaping disaster when a vehicle nearly hits them, only to throw their middle finger up at the driver?

Here’s an even more ridiculous scene: Has anyone ever walked into your car?

All of these things have happened to me, and while they might seem funny and downright idiotic, the fact is peril can follow such obliviousness.

We hear regularly from police about the dangers of distracted driving and the resulting crackdowns they are undertaking. Earlier this year, we heard about police using zoom lenses to catch people texting while driving, and busting them further up the road.

Good work.

But what about such mindlessness exhibited by careless pedestrians?

It’s something I’ve often wondered about. If I take such care when operating a vehicle, why shouldn’t pedestrians be required to take that same care when walking, to avoid injuring not only themselves, but others potentially behind the wheel?

I have to say I was surprised to read a new national Insights West poll that revealed two-thirds of Canadians (66 per cent) support their municipality enacting distracted walking legislation.

Some Canadian municipalities are contemplating legislation that would forbid the use of hand-held cell phones by people who are on a roadway (for example, while crossing a street).

In fact in July, Toronto’s city council passed a motion calling for the Province of Ontario to amend the Highway Traffic Act to ban residents from using mobile devices “while on any travelled portion of a roadway.”

Two City of Vancouver councillors have also voiced support for a ban.

Clearly, I fall within this category of support.

But the real key here would have to be enforcement of such a law.

Would this be just another useless piece of legislation, like jaywalking or wearing a helmet while riding a bike?

Let’s hold everyone responsible for their actions on the road– behind the wheel of a vehicle, or not. And let’s give it some teeth.

And hey, while we’re at it, let’s enact a law requiring cyclists to get insurance. I’ve seen many cyclists take out car mirrors and proceed to carry on their merry way.

The safer the better, folks. Take this from someone whose car got rear-ended this week.

Let’s keep our eyes, and minds, on the road at all times.

Amy Reid is staff writer with the Now. She can be reached at


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