Whether or not you can place the name, you have met the Wexters. You’ve probably bumped into them on the street. The Wexters are folks who walk and text at the same time.
You’ve seen these distracted pedestrians ambling down the sidewalk, through the parking lot, and across the street with eyes down as they busily text, talk, or listen to music all at the same time. With no idea what is going on around them, the Wexters are dangerous to themselves and others.
There are reports of distracted pedestrians that have walked into utility and sign posts, bumped into walls and other pedestrians, and stepped in front of moving cars. Occasionally, we hear of the distracted pedestrian who walked into a glass door or into a fountain. Let us not forget the woman who fell into Lake Michigan. A study published by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) revealed 40% have witnessed a distracted pedestrian incident and 25% admitted their own involvement in an incident.
It’s easy to laugh. In fact, 22% of AAOS respondents think distracted walking mishaps are “funny.” But incidents like these are no joke. Serious injuries can and do occur. In 2013, Ohio State University released a nationwide study which reported 256 distracted pedestrian emergency room visits in 2005. Five years later, in 2010, the number rose more than 500% to 1,506. This does not account for visits to personal physicians.
Avoid becoming a Wexter:
- Keep volume on headphone low enough to hear traffic.
- Focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around you.
- Obey traffic signals. Don’t jaywalk.
- Look up especially at curbs, stairs, and escalators.
- If you must make a call or text, step to the side, out of the way of pedestrians and traffic.
Photo credit: Found online. Unable to trace source
Distracted Driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from their primary task of driving. Types of distractions besides texting and using a cell phone include: eating and drinking, grooming, reading including maps, adjusting a radio or CD player. But because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention, it is by far the most alarming distraction. Cell phone use may not be the only distraction for drivers, but when you combine the risk with the frequency and prevalence, the reason for putting an end to this deadly behavior becomes clear.
Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4-6 seconds. When driving 55 mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field BLIND.
What can we as drivers do immediately to avoid distraction?
- put down the cell phone
- pull over to talk or text
- eat or drink only when the vehicle is stopped
- pre-select your music playlist before starting out
- take care of grooming at home
Small steps will make a big difference. Drivers who used their cell phones and were involved in a crash didn’t start their call with the intention of injuring or killing another person or themselves. Don’t become a statistic! You are driving a 2 ton vehicle. There’s a lot going on around you.
Stay focused. Stay alive.
What happens when Old Bridge High School 10th graders navigate an obstacle course containing a stop sign, traffic circle, pedestrians in a crosswalk and a traffic light, all while performing a math problem on a calculator?
KMM joined Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in conducting a Distracted Driver/Pedestrian Program and the results were not surprising! Of the 200 students who walked the course, only a handful received a perfect score. When evaluated after the program, the students never realized the mistakes they made while concentrating on their calculations. The results were indeed sobering.
The program is designed to educate students about the dangers of being distracted while driving or being a pedestrian. And since Middlesex County carries the #1 rank in the state for pedestrian accidents, the need to start educating our younger generation is important.
Remember, regardless of our age, we all need to be aware of our surroundings when out on the roads and concentrate on getting to our destination safely.