To ensure compliance with the rules of the road, the New York City Department of Transportation is mounting a public safety campaign to make sure New Yorkers are displaying situational awareness.
Or as Baron Davis puts it in a video released Tuesday: “Hey, heads up! Come on man, pay attention!” before nailing a phone-hypnotized pedestrian with a basketball.
Also at the receiving end of Davis’s scorn: a cyclist riding against traffic and a driver who aggressively enters a crosswalk thronged with pedestrians who have the right of way.
Davis is a point guard with the New York Knicks. He’s currently recovering from surgery for a knee injury.
In an emailed statement, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the point of the ad campaign is to raise awareness. “Whether it’s driving to the hoop or driving down the block, the cardinal rule of the road is to keep your eyes and ears open and your head up.”
In addition to the video, the DOT is placing “Heads Up” posters in bus shelters, and has even distributed 250,000 coffee cup sleeves for delis and coffee shops around the city.
In the Soho neighborhood, Jason Hunter, 24, said that texting on the go is to ingrained in people’s habits to change.
“It’s sort of become part of the New York culture, or the city culture. You know, sort of like we just eat and go, talk on the phone and go,” he said.
Suzanne Juen, 67, hopes people will stop texting while walking, but doesn’t think it will happen until police can fine people who text and walk.
“I think they’re very disrespectful of other people, I think they have no regard for other people. I also tell them to pick their heads up when they’re walking towards me,” she said.
Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
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