July 19, 2011
Gawker.com got it wrong. In the original story it never said that texting while walking is illegal. Perhaps our office was not clear enough. What quickly made national news claimed that “Texting While Walking Is Now a Crime in Philadelphia.” We have not, nor will we, ticket a pedestrian for distracted walking. Texting while walking is not illegal.
The City of Philadelphia has the second highest percentage of residents who walk to work nationally and has the highest percentage of people who bike to work for large US cities. It is critical that they, and the million of drivers who move in, out of and around the city, get home safely everyday. This summer we launched an “edu-forcement” campaign called “Give Respect, Get Respect” building off of the Federal distracted driving effort so as to warn pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists that need to be pay attention to as they share the same road space.
On average, nearly 2,000 pedestrians and more than 400 bicyclists are hit by cars each year in Philadelphia. That’s about one pedestrian every four hours and one biker every day. This grant funded safety program focuses on dangerous driving, biking and walking behavior where we have the most crashes. Philadelphia police have warned nearly 600 bicyclists about dangerous behavior and issued a handful for tickets for the most dangerous behaviors. They have also warned more than 100 motorists and issued 50 tickets for distracted driving. No tickets have been issued to pedestrians.
I don’t know about you, but I learned to cross the street around the time I was in kindergarten. My mom or dad would walk me carefully to the corner and tell me to look both ways before stepping into the street. It’s a useful lesson we all seem to have forgotten, distracted as we are by exciting, and all too often, erroneous internet postings. We’ve got to look out for each other and make sure that we all get home safely at the end of the day.