Our firm has brought you articles in the past about the dangers of distracted driving, which certainly includes texting and driving. Now, in this culture of being constantly on the phone, there is a new danger out there….. distracted walking! You did not just read that wrong and this has truly become a serious enough issue that parking garages have hired security to, in essence, save distracted pedestrians from themselves. It is alarming that in our current culture we have become increasingly dependent upon, or addicted to, our cellphones to the point that this is not just something silly to see on YouTube anymore but a real problem with real injuries and Emergency Room visits.
Researchers have gotten in on this phenomenon and Australian researchers found that when utilizing a cell phone while walking, the walking gait changes significantly to be less balanced and not really in a straight line. Those doing experiments such as having someone dressed up like Chewbacca walking down the street or putting a clown on a unicycle near pedestrians, see that many using cell phones do not notice anything unusual, no matter how silly. There are cities and colleges now trying to be proactive in preventing distracted walker accidents and even fatalities. The largest city in our nation reduced its speed limits for cars, while a California city has been making more pedestrian only corridors and paths, and some cities and college campuses have placed signs around cautioning pedestrians to look up (or warning motorists that pedestrians will not be looking up). If distracted walkers do not notice Chewbacca walking down the street or clowns on unicycles, are they going to notice signs? And are posted speed limits going to assure cars will not be speeding on city streets?
In much the same way as an auto maker is constantly looking for innovations (air bags, automatic braking) to keep people safer, even if acting irresponsibly, technology companies are now finding themselves searching for the best technologies to keep distracted technology owners safer. There are apps to keep people from distracted driving as a result of their cell phones and now there are engineers testing apps that would utilize GPS to know when an individual is stepping into an intersection while using their phone. Such an app would lock the phone screen and give the user a flashing warning to look up or use sensors in user’s shoes that would warn they had stepped onto the street. There is also talk of making those companies using cell phone apps to send non-priority notifications to be more responsible in distracting cell phone users.
One of the big questions that may come with this increasing phenomenon of distracted walking will be who is ultimately at fault when accidents and injuries happen. The best bet right now is to become mindful of distracted walking you or your loved ones may be riskily engaging in. Perhaps there will be a new slogan that friends can keep friends from walking distracted. Inserra & Kelley Law Offices wants all its readers out there in the blogosphere to act responsibly and be safe. Please read our latest blogs when you are firmly planted in one place where distractions will not be possible dangers.