Back To School – Distracted Student Walkers

Back to School – Don’t be a Distracted Walker

Back-to-school supplies used to include pens, calculators, and notebooks. However, these days it’s a much different (and expensive) list than what it used to be before technology invaded the classroom. Smartphones, iPads, and laptops have become common if not required essentials to tackle the school year’s curriculum.

When the end of day school bell rings, kids are just as eager to continue texting, talking, and surfing the web. Watching YouTube videos or sending a few tweets may seem like a harmless activity during their walk to the bus or home from school, but it’s these very actions that have become serious dangers to their safety.

Every year, distracted pedestrian walkers causes thousands of injuries and deaths across North America. The risk involved with using a handheld device and driving has been recognized within BC, but few people consider that the same dangers apply to other modes of transportation, including your own two legs.

If you think that talking on your cell phone is less dangerous than texting, think again, as a recent study – co-authored by Jack Nasar, professor of city and regional planning at the The Ohio State University – found that 69% of injuries occurred when people were talking on their phones. Though we try to convince ourselves otherwise, humans are not natural multi-taskers. We’re not programmed to do two things at once because we lose focus on our surroundings.

To teach your kids about the dangers of distracted pedestrian walking, start with a conversation about why they need to be safe and alert when hitting the road. Explain to them the reasons why they need to be defensive walkers. Then before the school year starts, we suggest taking them on a practice walk. Begin with stowing their devices away in their backpacks before they begin their journey. Show them to look left, right, and then left again when crossing the street, and to always make eye contact with drivers before they step across the road. If they really need to use their cell phone or handheld device, stop walking, move to the side, and do whatever they need to do before they hit the pavement again.

Drivers can be unpredictable, so knowing how to protect yourself begins with being focused. Teach your kids to disconnect from their devices to stay safe this school year.

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