By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Distracted pedestrians who are too engrossed in their cellphones or BlackBerries can easily get into accidents. Virgin Mobile Canada has taken an intiative to the sidewalks to make them a bit safer with a new campaign to encourage government agencies to install Safe Text Zones across Canada.
Studies show that the number of sidewalk accidents has increased drastically in the last several years, largely due to the high number of pedestrians who text while they walk. In Canada alone, more than 20,000 pedestrian accidents have occurred while texting since 2009. These are the more serious ones that were actually reported, thousands of accidents go unreported.
“Thousands of Canadians are hurt each month after bumping into street poles and other sidewalk obstructions – and even each other – while texting on their mobile phones,” says Dr. Thumbson, lead researcher with the consumer advocacy group Canadians Raising Awareness for Street-related Harm (C.R.A.S.H.)
“Textus interruptus, or a lack of awareness of one’s environment while texting, has drastically increased, especially with today’s youth as they just can’t stop playing with it. To ensure that pedestrians are kept safe, we believe that Safe Text Zones should be installed on major streets across Canada. It’s a real safety issue and it’s time the government took action,” Dr. Thumbson points out.
To test out the concept and prove its success, Virgin Mobile has stepped in to set up prototype Safe Text Zones in Toronto on sections of Queen Street and Yonge Street and on Vancouver’s Robson Street which are some of the most densely populated streets with high pedestrian traffic.
The zones are equipped with padded street pillars and Virgin Angels armed with padded shields to protect pedestrians on the sidewalks.
“These Safe Text Zones can help drastically reduce the number of injuries related to texting while walking by providing a soft landing for anyone who crashes,” said Nathan Rosenberg, Chief Safe Text-pert, Virgin Mobile Canada.
“From thumb sprain to full on neck-twists, texting and walking can be dangerous business. After C.R.A.S.H. brought the various issues to our attention, it was immediately clear that we needed to step in and show our support. We’re hoping that the Safe Text Zones we’ve installed will show both Canadians and our government what an important issue this is.”
To help Canadians stay tuned to Safe Text Zones, Virgin Mobile Canada also launched an iPhone app. The Safe Text app will alert texters as they enter into a Safe Text Zone so they know when they’re ok to keep typing without having to look up.
Of course, the best thing is to avoid texting while walking, driving or operating heavy machinery. The more connected people become to our technology, the higher the chance that they fail to be aware of what is going on around them. Distraction has proven to be dangerous.