The Department of Transportation has authorized $2 million in grants to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted walking. The announcement came along with the launch of a new federal website, Everyone is a Pedestrian.
According to an article from ABC News, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx cited the importance of these new initiatives, saying, “A lot of times people will be wearing their earphones and headphones, and you can get in an accident that way. There are both structural challenges [and] behavioral challenges to dealing with this issue.” The article noted that pedestrians could be seen jaywalking behind Secretary Foxx during the press conference, which was held at a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.
I am no fan of distracted walking. It has caused me a number of stubbed toes over the years. But my own distracted walking will not be solved by education, and I doubt anyone else’s will.
I hope the Department of Transportation will continue to support pedestrians by building sidewalks. Until our nation’s budget is balanced, however, I’d be happy to see all grants that include the words “raise awareness” cease. I’m inclined to think that what G. K. Chesterton said about compulsory education is also true of public awareness campaigns. Their purpose is to deprive common people of common sense.