What’s The New Threat To Pedestrians? [Consumer]

by on August 1, 2012

in consumer

smartphonesThe Tuesday edition of my local paper had a headline that was left of logo, and it read, “New Threat to pedestrians: The iPhone.

Never mind the privacy concerns of the user tracking that smartphones do. (It’s called cookies on a desktop/laptop.)  Never mind that the Motorola Droid‘s camera took five steps back at their last big update or that it can’t even hold a candle to iPhone‘s camera.

Nope, the big issue is that people can’t use a smartphone and walk at the same time, because it appears they can’t look up from their tiny screens.

Is it that important folks?

Apparently.  Smartphone walking injuries have increased by a factor of 4 over the last 7 years.  Heck, the government is even asking how far they should or need to go, to “protect people from themselves?“  I’d like to think it’s basic Darwinism, but that’s me.

Philadelphia had run a joke on April Fool’s day, and they taped up a smartphone user lane on the sidewalk going around the downtown office buildings.  When they took it down, text-walkers got mad.

I find that interesting, that folks got acclimated to a walk path that allowed them to not worry about other pedestrians.

With the smartphone market share stats, right now, the leading smartphone seller is Samsung.  How they got there is another matter, depending on what comes of the lawsuits.

(I can never go back to Samsung after my horrible smartphone experience a few years back.  Something about lack of planning, poor execution, not caring what the consumer wants… etc., etc..)

But between Samsung and Apple, it might behoove them to install walking radar in the back of their phones.  LOL.

Actually, a few years ago there was an effort to look at clear pop-up screens or in-screen video feeds of what’s in front of a pedestrian to help prevent them from killing themselves.

Yep, their little electronic gadget has such important information in it that allegedly some folks have found themselves dead from using their smartphone and not looking up.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this subject matter pop up.  A few years ago I saw a piece on text-walkers, headphones, and absent-minded accidents.  But for the life of me, I’m not putting in the correct search terms to find what I am recalling.  Though when you include the addition of headphone usage to the equation, The University of Maryland found in a study that over 100 people have died in six years because they weren’t even looking around!

And that seems like such a basic skill.

The gist of what I was looking for was that people were walking off curbs into traffic, into light posts and into potholes and some organizations were looking into different ideas to help smartphone users not kill themselves.  Whether it be a pinging radar, clear view screens, or what not, folks were looking into this scenario some time ago.  This isn’t a new trend.  It’s just a new trending web piece.

So this is not new news or a new development.  But right now, I see that this piece I’m looking at in the Daily Post, where ever it did originate, has spread like wildfire and is saturating my searches.

Yep, looking up sure can be irritating when you’re reading or typing tiny print on a tiny phone.  I know.  I’ve experienced it.  But be it as it may, I have to say folks, looking up isn’t that hard when using your smartphone.  I know.  I’ve done it and have yet to have any kind of accident. (I’ll probably head out the door at lunch today and fall off the end of the earth now!)

It’s called being aware of your surroundings.  You really need to be careful out there.  Some drivers out there are already stupid enough as it is.  Case in Point:

Just the other day I watched a black 4-door Lincoln gun it through a gap in a crowd of pedestrians in a crosswalk here in Menlo Park.  No one was hit and yes, there was plenty of room… if you count a foot or two on either side of the car as plenty of room.

Or the mother driving her SUV who had to get by the pedestrians before they got in her way.  Again, a close call here in Menlo Park.  And I loved how she would NOT look up over at those of us yelling at her.  I mean, we were right outside her window as she zipped by, gunning it up to about 25.

My favorite was the man driving a pickup truck who gunned it hard to get through the intersection before he had to wait for me to cross Santa Cruz… Only to plow hard into two cars in front of him while gunning it.  I really can’t figure out for the life of me how he didn’t see them stopped in the road in front of him, but he HAD to get past me so he wouldn’t have to wait for this pedestrian.  He totaled two vehicles in his rush.  (How’d that work out buddy?)

So it’s just not about whether you’re watching where you step or not.  (Well, actually, it’s mostly about that.)  But it’s also about watching out for others who aren’t watching out for you while you’re tackling that all-important task on your smartphone while walking.


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