Column - Sir Greg Knight
We all know that travelling on the highway involves adhering to a set of rules.
If you are a motorist, you need to ensure that you have a licence, that the vehicle is properly insured and that you drive carefully.
If you are a cyclist, you are advised – but not compelled – to wear a safety helmet, and you are expected to display lights during the hours of darkness.
Now, pedestrians are being threatened with new laws – not here in the UK, but in the US State of New Jersey.
It is being proposed there that texting, whilst walking, should be banned. Under the proposed new law, called ‘Distracted Walking’, pedestrians would be given a $35 fine if seen by a police officer not paying attention to where they are going.
Persistent offenders even risk 15 days in jail.
USA politician Pamela Lampitt said ‘Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and others.’
Her proposal comes after researchers found that accidents involving pedestrians distracted by their mobile phones account for over ten thousand injuries in the USA over 10 years.
Proponents of this new law argue that those using their phone while walking are more likely to ignore traffic lights or neglect to look both ways.
According to experts, the problem is particularly prevalent amongst teenagers who appear to think it is OK to cross the road while texting or using the internet.
Although there is no proposal before the British Parliament to introduce such a law here, the accident figures speak for themselves.
The lesson must be that all users of the public highway, be they on four wheels, two, or on foot, need to play their part in helping our roads to become safer.
On the subject of lessons, I heard a teacher ask pupils an interesting question recently, namely ‘what is the world’s deadliest animal?’
You might think that the answer is a lion, or possibly a tiger? But no, the world’s deadliest animal is a mosquito. No other creature on earth takes as many lives and causes untold misery and suffering as the humble mosquito.
This tiny killer not only carries malaria, it also spreads yellow fever, dengue fever, and now the latest threat is the Zika virus.
In recent decades, the world has made some progress in the war against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, but there is still much more that needs to be done.
Our unpredictable British weather has many downsides, but one upside is that it kills off the mosquito.