Pedestrians have lost their right of way.

Write a multi-paragraph response (in essay format: introduction, body, conclusion) to the article below.

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Your response should accurately summarize the author’s main argument AND critically respond to it.

You may choose to agree with the author’s argument, to disagree with it, or to partially agree/disagree with it.

Your essay should also consider at least one objection a reader might have to your argument. You may respond to this objection in different ways. For example, you may argue against the objection, or you may acknowledge that the objection is a good point and incorporate it into your argument. It’s up to you.

The following article, Pedestrians Have Lost Their (Right of) Way is by Dexter McAllister and appears in Travel and Tourism (2012).

Since the days of the Grand Tour,[1] the absentminded tourist has been getting away with distracted (and distracting) behaviour: this visitor now points to his license plate when making illegal turns in his rental car, asks any civil official he can find for directions, expects everyone in the world to speak his own language, and narrowly avoids accidents while attending to his mapand now, the GPS on his iPhonewhen crossing foreign or unknown streets. Yet, this absentminded pedestrian is no longer simply a tourist; pedestrians on their own familiar streets are abusing their right of way by overusing a new generation of distracting electronics. If pedestrians do not begin respecting the drivers who stay out of their way, these pedestrians should lose their right of way: laws which call for drivers to cross before pedestrians will force the latter to take responsibility again, and in so doing, prevent injuries and deaths.
The use of electronics while crossing the street is disrespectful to attentive drivers. Students in college towns give drivers enough trouble at night when they drunkenly jaywalk across intersections, too impatient to wait at a light before crossing to get in line at the bar. The advent of a smart phone means drivers must attend to these distracted students during daytime hours as well. A ubiquitous messaging climate, near-limitless apps and games, the connection to a 4G network supporting HD streaming video, noise cancelling Beats by Dr. Dre headphones: all these distractions draw students in andthanks to the right of waythey feel invincible as they cross busy streets with their heads down. They compose texts while walking, never looking up to acknowledge the driver who waits to make eye contact with them so that the driver may signal his intentions. This pedestrian behavior is disrespectful because it abuses the right of way. Municipalities and provinces should amend laws governing pedestrians. At the very least, these governing bodies should make it illegal to operate hand-held devices when passing through intersections; at most, they should remove the pedestrians right of way and force people to look before they cross. Pedestrians, particularly college-age students, cannot be trusted to amend their own behavior. They do not respect the dangers of these intersections, and do not respect the drivers who drive with safety in mind.
Others may claim that the use of these devices is not a measure of disrespect; however, these same detractors cannot deny the uncomfortable level of trust pedestrians now place in the drivers who meet them at crosswalks. CBC News states, In the U.S., reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported (Police). It is no coincidence that the advent of smart phones and the iPod revolution began seven years ago. Major cities like Toronto have already made corrective effortsdespite no laws governing pedestrian distraction. In August of this year, police handed out informational pamphlets to walkers asking them to take responsibility, to keep their heads up and to scan intersections (Police). This effort is only a beginning, but an essential one because, well, there really is no other solution: no other person or group is in any position to take responsibility. Pedestrians, especially nave ones, cannot be trusted to keep themselves safe, in as much as cyclists need to be told to wear a helmet. Indeed, the pedestrian right of way needs to be taken away.

[1] The Grand Tour was a 17th and 18th Century tradition in which young, wealthy people travelled through Europe looking to add to their life experience

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