Distracted driving, particularly among inexperienced drivers, can lead to auto-related fatalities. Distracted pedestrians can lead to their own downfall, too.

Driving, by its nature, is very distracting and insulating - piloting a two-ton missile equipped with layers and layers of sound proofing, radios, and even an alert driver will be keeping track of multiple objects - principally other vehicles in addition to traffic signals, signage and trying to evaluate the road ahead. Walking is an entirely different experience, if only because the "cage" isn't there anymore. You have a direct connection to your environment, reaction times under normal pedestrian conditions are such that you only need to react to a threat instantly rather than attempting to evaluate and predict a threat (or you simply see an obstacle coming with enough time to casually avoid it) and the most demanding and distracting environments usually contend with other pedestrian traffic. Sidewalks, pedestrian/vehicle traffic direction devices, the rising popularity of pedestrian malls and other means to carefully segregate pedestrian and vehicle traffic make the deadly interaction of pedestrian and vehicle traffic a relatively rare occurrence relative to the national interaction of each. That said, there are far too many cases of pedestrian injuries or fatalities from vehicle collisions (you can, for example view 2010 statistical data here in PDF format), and nearly 100% of all those accidents are perfectly preventable on the part of the pedestrian.


I've made a big deal about how wholly inadequate driver's education is in the United States. Pedestrian education is just as every bit as equally important, as the linked PDF suggests, but such education is even more nonexistent and effectively ends upon graduation from kindergarten. You'd think it'd just be common sense - but once again, official statistics suggest otherwise.

I'm far from an expert and I can't readily consult one at the time of this writing, so I can only offer my own uneducated guess based on observation. One such guess is that pedestrians are perhaps so desensitized to vehicle traffic that they fail to simply notice it. Another such guess is that pedestrians (and, really, by pedestrians I mean practically everyone living on the planet right now, author included) are just accustomed to operating obliviously. There are actually very specific evolutionary reasons for this, and the reasons are far from frivolous to being able to properly function in life. Paying attention isn't necessarily being aware but knowing when to be aware.

A potential solution would be to integrate pedestrian education into driver's ed curriculum. As important to the education itself would be teaching it in a way that doesn't insult the student's intelligence and make him or her feel as if the main purpose is to wax nostalgic about daycare. As I've said, I have no idea how to accomplish that.


But it's important enough of an issue that it must be pressed. Many hit-and-run fatalities can, in fact, be traced to a chain of events that could have been broken if the pedestrian had exercised simple yet better judgement. Crossing when traffic signals give the right-of-way to pedestrians, at crosswalks where pedestrians actually do have the designated right-of-way. Not assuming vehicle traffic will stop once the bus stops (or assuming that vehicle traffic will resume once the bus leaves). Not crossing the street when conditions are blatantly dangerous for crossing, such as at night or when visibility is poor. The latter two seem like no-brainers, but seem to be contributing factors in a particularly large number, if not the majority, of vehicle-on-pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

Honestly, if people are just that stupid that they need what is in essence remedial toddler-level education in something that should be common-sense, so be it. Having two lives potentially ruined, with one quite possibly snuffed out, and economic damage from such blatant acts of stupidity is, statistically speaking, inevitable. But it's happening at far too large a scale. If this isn't an indication that there is a complete lack of care in how people operate around dangerous machinery, I don't know what is.