Distracted driving is a serious problem, but … distracted walking?
University of Kentucky officials are worried enough about students texting while walking that they recently installed about 50 new warning signs at busy crosswalks around campus. They’re blue, of course, and attached in the sidewalk, which is where many distracted walkers are already looking.
“If you watch our students, staff, really anyone walking on campus, you see a lot of people with their heads down,” said Chris Dudley, UK’s human resources manager for Workers Compensation, Long-Term Disability and Family Medical Leave. “We have had accidents, and we have a lot of near misses.”
According to a 2015 report from the National Safety Council, distracted walking incidents caused more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.
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Michele Laur, safety specialist with UK Occupational Health and Safety, created the 9-by-11-inch signs that adhere to concrete.
“Our campus has a variety of ways to travel throughout in addition to walking, such as mopeds, bicycles, buses, cars and golf carts,” Laur said. “Checking the crosswalk in both directions prior to crossing and being aware of your surroundings is key to your safety.”
Sophomore Daizia Rudolph was staring so intently at her phone Thursday as she walked along Avenue of Champions that she hadn’t yet noticed any of the signs.
“It might help,” she said. “I get close to bumping into things.”
Seniors Melanie Monroe and Carly Kovatch were more impressed.
“I think it’s cool, because it’s there when you’re looking down,” Monroe said.
But, they joked, the signs might be more effective if they had blinking lights. Or Kovatch said, a taped voice saying “get off your phone.”