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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Take the ear buds out to walk safe

    Distracted pedestrians, whether listening to hip-hop or smooth jazz, need to have a code of conduct. Even if a pedestrian does not mind if he or she gets hit by an automobile, it leaves a psychological effect on the driver. There needs to be an equal level of responsibility for both drivers and pedestrians about what happens on Tucson roadways.

    The city has created a task force to make Tucson’s streets safer in response to the city’s high pedestrian fatality rate. In Tucson, there were 17 fatal pedestrian accidents in 2011, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

    While this is a step in the right direction for Tucson, there are also signs that this a serious issue nationally. In a University of Maryland study published in the journal Injury Prevention, researchers found that there were 116 accidents between 2004 and 2011 where a vehicle hit a pedestrian while he or she was wearing headphones. Of the 116 accidents, 81 of the collisions led to deaths and 24 incidents involved serious injury.

    This study and the issue in Tucson are upsetting because of how people view pedestrians. Cars pose the highest threat to pedestrians, and adding headphones to the mix just puts people in greater jeopardy.

    More and more adolescents are growing up viewing technology as an improvement to everything they do, but this research shows another side to a bigger issue. Is technology making the next generation less aware of its surroundings?

    At the same time, there is a less publicized role in this situation. How does a driver psychologically recover from injuring another human being? Even if the driver has no physical scars, he or she most likely has a conscience.

    It should be a crime to jam out to some tunes and walk in front of a moving vehicle. Whether or not the pedestrian has the right of way, what if there is an ambulance quickly approaching the intersection? It is not the paramedic’s fault that the pedestrian cannot hear the sirens.

    There needs to be a code of conduct that regulates drivers and pedestrians. Pedestrians can be a significant distraction on the roadway. People need to understand that headphones do not mix well with walking outside. It may look cool around school, but at the end of the day the driver of a vehicle cannot tell whether a pedestrian is aware of his or her surroundings until it is too late.

    The city of Tucson requires help from not only the government, but also from its residents. Drivers have enough penalties to fear, but headphones are a distraction that no one but the wearer can control. Pedestrians need to watch out and listen up.

    — Megan Hurley is a journalism junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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