The problem of texting while driving has always been a huge concern, and after years of legislative battles, using your smartphone while driving is banned in many Provinces. But what about when you are not driving and merely walking? It seems that an increase in pedestrian accidents is also on the rise, and the City Council of Toronto wanted to take the driver’s ban one-step further by making it a violation – meaning you would receive a ticket – for using a mobile device in a “travelled portion” of the city. This law would take into account all crosswalks. The council voted 26-15 to pass the motion, and it even had the support of Mayor John Tory.
This means that if you are caught using a smartphone, tablet, or even a gaming console, you could be fined for the violation. This law could be a cramp in many people’s daily lives – some users will text or talk the entire time they are out walking at lunch or going across town to a business meeting. It is certainly a real problem and the cause or almost cause of many accidents, but it only took a day for Ontario’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to deny the request by stating the obvious – that pedestrians will be safe if they keep their head up and make themselves aware of the road crossings. Certainly, the City Council had the best interest of the pedestrians in mind, but it seems this is an issue which starts to verge on personal privacy and rights.
Toronto has been a leader in traffic and pedestrian safety, and many of their recommendations came from a survey of 1,253 Toronto residents. All ages and genders participated, as well as having to live in the City of Toronto. The primary road safety concerns of the people surveyed were – Distracted Driving, Intersection-related Safety, Pedestrian Safety, and Cyclist Safety. Fines and punishments for Distractive Driving have steadily increased as drivers were ignoring the law of no smartphone use while driving. The second and third items of concern, are what the City Council was trying to address – maybe next time, some fines will be passed for using your mobile device in a crosswalk – but for now the pedestrians of Toronto gain a reprieve.