Use cell crossing the street? You should die!

Well, not really, of course. But I just can’t imagine how some cellphone users act as though the believe cars are fluffy clouds that won’t cause them any harm.

I know I post often about my inability to understand much modern tech and its users. There aren’t many life lessons more basic than "look before crossing the street. Help me get into the mindset of someone who apparently thinks pedestrian crosswalks are an appropriate place to have their eyes glued to their phones?

This a.m. I was stopped at a red light on a busy suburban street (22d and York in Oak Brook for those around Chicago.) 3 lanes of traffic in each direction, and 2 left turn lanes. The lights were well into their cycle when a pedestrian approached the curb. As he stepped into the intersection, he pulled out his phone and began looking at it. He lost his signal right when he was about halfway across - just about to step in front to the cars waiting to turn left. He proceeded on his way, without looking up or increasing his pace until he was past the left turn lanes.

Last Sat, I was at a light with no turn on red, waiting to turn right immediately onto an expressway on ramp (Harlem and the Ike.) A pedestrian was standing right next to me, headed in the same direction, standing right at the curb looking intently at his phone. The light changed to green, and the pedestrian neither moved nor looked up. I didn’t know whether to go, wait, or honk. Eventually (really only a few seconds), he stepped off the curb with no indication of checking for traffic.

I’m just wondering if such people are clueless? Self absorbed? So secure/confident in their safety that they assume all drivers are competent and aware and will stop? Something else? I realize that many folk think it appropriate to use their phones in any number of places/situations I personally would disfavor, but the idea of doing so when your life is potentially in peril really is foreign to me.

On edit - not sure how I screwed up the title. Should read “Use cell…”

This is not just true for people crossing the street but doing virtually everything, including driving. I use a smart phone and I think it’s a wonderful tool but I really don’t understand why it seems the majority of the population has to have their face down in their phone every waking minute. I do not look at my phone when I am crossing the street. Too much shit to go wrong there.

Psychologists have demonstrated attention blindness–despite optimism to the contrary the human mind cannot truly multi-task. If your attention is on your phone, you are simply not registering the car with a green light bearing down on you, the cashier waiting for you to pay, the friend sitting at the same restaurant table, or the pedestrian crossing against the light whom you are about to hit.

If I understand the examples in the OP correctly, both pedestrians had the right of way. That doesn’t mean “look both ways when you cross the street” as taught to me by my dear mother isn’t a good idea, but technically…

Of course, what was taught by my dear father was “He Had The Right Of Way is not something you want on your tombstone”. That was before cell phones, but I don’t think it’s changed.


They definitely both had the right of way. Well - not sure if there is any expectation that a pedestrian CLEAR the intersection while they have the signal. The guy who entered the intersection late crossing the busy street succeeded in making the left turners miss their signal. Not a HUGE deal, just somewhat unsafe and inconsiderate IMO.

The guy near the on-ramp - I was happy to either wait for him or go first - whichever he preferred. Definitely preferred not to miss an entire cycle because of him, tho. But he made zero effort to disclose his intentions. I ALMOST was to the point of honking - which I tend to try to avoid when possible as it can be startling, confusing, or interpreted as rude.

Just surprises me when I see repeated instances of people acting as tho they are unaware/uncaring that something, “MIGHT KILL YOU!” I understand (tho I don’t like) that most people accept cell use in social situations where it impresses me as just rude - at the table, waiting in line when it is their turn… And doing so when driving is at least as likely to kill someone else, rather than the driver. Have these idiots no sense of self preservation?

I’m constantly amazed at how often pedestrians exhibit a sense of self-preservation that is far below my personal standard. Staring at a cell phone while mingling with cars is just one aspect. I also see people walking on the right side of the road, after dark, in dark clothing, with headphones on. Crossing in crosswalks without looking at places where cars could come from to hit them. Walking up the center of parking lot aisles. The list goes on and on, and the behavior long predates the existence of smartphones. People don’t seem to want to focus on their safety, and the hypnotic nature of a cell phone screen just gives them a target for their wandering attention.

I don’t understand this either. I am a marathon walker, and I need to use my cel phone I stop, find a place to sit down, and then use the phone. No phone call is worth risking my life.

OTOH, I started crossing a one way street the other day when a texting driver turned into it, going the wrong freaking way. I had to jump back to avoid being creamed.

Humans are really bad at risk assessment, both the part where you assess the odds of getting hit while walking across an intersection, and, possibly more importantly, the part where you multiply those odds with the consequences.

Not paying much attention to their surroundings mostly works out fine for them, so they perceive low odds of not catching that car running a red light while they are checking the latest on instagram while crossing the street, and they are unable to comprehend on a gut level that if those odds fail you, you might be actually dead.

That gives room to react to cars backing out of spaces. Unless the pedestrian has his/her head in the phone.

Historically, I seem to recall peds rushing across busy streets. They knew they could make it, and assumed nothing unusual would happen and didn’t mind making the driver nervous.

Or the time honored slow stroll (generally accompanied by glare) - to make the driver stop.

And of course, there I the time honored runner/biker, after dark, dressed in black head to toe, with no light or reflective clothing.

I guess this “eyes glued to the phone” behavior suggested to me something other than stupidity, poor choices, or lousy attitude. Almost suggests a belief that “nothing wrong can happen to me.” But not being young or heavily into my phone, I wanted to seek other possible interpretations.

Crap, I can’t even walk using my phone without tripping. I don’t know how these folks do it. I was ran into, full force, by a kid walking down an aisle in Wal-Mart, looking at her phone. She barely looked up and said, ‘oh, sorry’

Despite walking at the side of parking lot aisles, I manage to avoid getting crushed by cars backing out of spaces because I look at them. Someone in the driver’s seat? Engine running? Brake lights on? Pay attention, because they might be about to put it in reverse and cross your path. I’m almost fifty now, and I haven’t been killed once yet, so this approach seems to work.

Walking in the center of the driving lan exposes peds to cars trolling around for an available spot, many of who aren’t paying a whole lot of attention to what’s in front of them because they’re scanning for empty spots. With the prevalence of plug-in hybrids and electric cars these days, it’s folly for a ped to rely on hearing a vehicle approach from behind at parking lot speeds. In fact, I don’t even drive a hybrid, and it’s amazing how often such center-walking peds don’t notice my approach. Sometimes even when I’m approaching from their front.

One of my favorites was a young person texting while riding a bike no hands, down the centerline of a 4-lane suburban through street! Felt some driver should have been awarded for taking those genes outta the pool!

I hope you pounded on the hood of his car and yelled “I’m walking here!”
(My favorite line from Midnight Cowboy. So New York.)

Yeah, the driver could have been rewarded with both ears and the phone.

A couple years ago, on a icy winter day, a pedestrian wearing those big Beats headphones walked out against the red into a crosswalk without so much as a glance at traffic. I happened to driving and with the green, he was crossing from my left to my right.

As the guy just moseyed into the street, as I was 20 yards away and going 30 mph, I jammed on the brakes and hit the horn. He noticed me and clearly realized his life was in peril: he tried so hard to scurry back to the curb after almost diving into a 180, but with the slick road, his feet kept moving but he just wasn’t going very far.

Fortunately he was crossing from my left to right, so that he had not yet crossed into my lane of traffic. Had he done the same thing of walking into the crosswalk going the opposite direction, things would have ended very badly.

This instant is seared in my brain for both being the moment I could have very seriously hurt or even killed someone when I was doing absolutely nothing wrong; and the dark awful humor of the guy looking like the roadrunner spinning his feet but not going anywhere. It’s made me try to drive even more safely, and for sure as hell I pay a LOT of attention to traffic when I’m walking.

In my suburb, despite the existence of completely serviceable sidewalks on both sides of the street, people walk, jog, and even push baby strollers down the street. I don’t get it.

I would like to find out how this would work out in court. If a car gets a green light and another car is blocking the intersection, the blocking car is subject to a citation for blocking traffic. I don’t know why it would be different for a pedestrian. If the pedestrian didn’t have time to get all the way across he started to cross on a “Don’t Walk” signal. I do not advocate playing chicken with pedestrians but a left-turning driver might not see the pedestrian approaching from his right and could think “green means GO” and the ped becomes a grease spot.

In previous threads, folk have offered reasons (which I do not find persuasive) including that asphalt streets are gentler on their joints than concrete sidewalks.

Pedestrian might get a jaywalking citation. :rolleyes: But in most instances, green NEVER means GO (without checking to ensure way is clear). In Illinois, I’m not aware of any instances where the law says certain drivers have the unqualified right-of-way. Instead, the general practice is to specify instances in which the driver must yield.

My route home (frequently taken after dark) goes up a hill and round a curve through a dimly lit area. Frequently there are people walking along the right-hand edge of the road (there are no sidewalks) wearing dark clothing. Whether or not they’re using cellphones (hard to tell in the dark), their level of confidence that drivers will see and be able to avoid them is not justified.

I don’t find it persuasive either, but I guess it can make sense for joggers or the elderly.

Pushing a baby in a stroller down the street is incomprehensible, to me.