Feb 20, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
One of the mantras Georgia Tech Police often repeat to improve safety in the campus community is, “Be aware of your surroundings.”
Students, faculty and staff hear and see the phrase so often that it has lost some of its meaning over time. To reinvigorate the reminder and further drive home the point that people can take steps to protect themselves, the Georgia Tech Police Department is launching a new campaign to generate awareness of the dangers of distracted walking.
“Everybody does it,” said GTPD Capt. Tony Leonard. “We’ve all seen the funny videos on social media of people walking into traffic or falling into a fountain because they’re looking at their phone and not watching where they’re going. It’s not funny when you’re the one injured or the victim of a robbery attempt.”
The dangers of distracted driving are well documented, and many states have outlawed the use of mobile phones when behind the wheel. Distracted walking is taken less seriously by the public even though the consequences can be severe.
A study published as early as 2012 by New York’s Stony Brook University showed that those who texted while walking were 60 percent more likely to drift off course than those who were not texting. A Pew Research Center study in 2014 found that 53 percent of all adult mobile phone owners have either been on the giving or receiving end of a distracted walking encounter.
To help drive home the point, GTPD is soliciting true stories of distracted walking on the Georgia Tech subreddit.
The National Safety Council campaign “Heads Up, Phone Down” offers the following common-sense suggestions to help mobile phone users stay safe:
- Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
- If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
- Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
- Do not walk with headphones on.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if you must walk on the street, face oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
- Cross only at crosswalks.
“We all need to pay better attention to our surroundings when we’re walking, particularly off campus and at night,” said GTPD Chief Rob Connolly. “We hope by giving this problem some visibility, we’ll help our campus community stay safe.”