CT Safety Spotlight: Distracted Pedestrians

Connecticut Safety Spotlights

Periodically, the Connecticut Dept. of Transportation (CT DOT) chooses a topic of interest from the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan to highlight in “Connecticut Safety Spotlights“. The CT Safety Spotlights are a series of informational briefs, providing updates and the latest data on various topics in traffic safety.

National surveys from safety organizations are distributed annually to gauge public opinion on various traffic safety issues. On the topic of distracted driving, general responses from these surveys indicate that most people consider distracted driving to be a safety concern and that a person would not feel safe driving with someone who was distracted. The issue of distraction among pedestrians is not discussed as frequently, despite it also being a safety concern. There is no required training for crossing the street or using pedestrians signals equivalent to a driver’s license exam. Once a pedestrian enters the roadway, however, they become a road user interacting with other users like motorists. Drivers should remain alert and aware of their surroundings when on the road and pedestrians should exhibit those same safe behaviors when crossing. This can be hard to do when you are looking down at a phone or have music preventing you from hearing a car horn.

The CT Safety Spotlight brief “Heads Up!! Distracted Pedestrians” dives into the data on the proportion of pedestrians who talk, text or listen to music while crossing the road and how those distracted behaviors result in an increase in pedestrian deaths. A graph displays the difference in the average reaction time of a pedestrian who is responding to  a complex text (3 seconds) to a person who is not using their phone at all (1 second). The difference of a few seconds could be the difference between reacting in time to get out of the path of a moving vehicle or not. More often than not, pedestrians who are struck by vehicles incur serious and fatal injuries because there is nothing to offer them protection from the impact of the crash.

The brief also includes the innovative measures Connecticut is taking towards increased pedestrian safety in the form of upgraded pedestrian signal operations and educational campaigns and programs. Read more about distracted walking and the state’s traffic safety efforts, check out CT Safety Spotlight: Heads Up!! Distracted Pedestrians.

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