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HEY, TEXTERS? Do You Multi Task? It Could Be DANGEROUS, Even When You're WALKING!


As technology evolves, so do technology-related mishaps.  Some municipalities, and a few states, are trying to prevent distracted driving by restricting use of cell phones while driving.  Distracted driving, some assume, would lead to traffic accidents, injuries, or worse.

I've seen a few attempting to send or reply to a text message while driving, even write a note on a pad attached by suction cup to the inside of the windshield.  These folks scare the heck out of me - what about you?

Common sense tells us the same kind of distraction-related accidents can happen to pedestrians, as well as drivers.  Walk down The Magnificent Mile - Michigan Avenue in Chicago - during any day or evening, and you'll probably see a dozen folks walking and texting at the same time.  Oblivious to crosswalks.  Or curbs.  Or fire plugs.  Or other pedestrians.

Some actually get hurt along the way! 

According to Dr. James Adams, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,  "We always see someone [who was] texting or calling, who would not have been in that accident had it not been for the phone," Adams said.

"The Lake Shore (Bike and Walking) Path is ground zero, and so is Michigan Avenue," Adams says. "We see people tripping off curbs, off sidewalks, into planting grates. People are moving, it's crowded and accidents happen."

Those accidents could become even more injurious when it's on the Lake Front Path, where both pedestrians and cyclists might be endangered.  Adams discusses a possible scenario: "Someone is texting and walking a dog, the dog goes farther out on the leash and doesn't get yanked back because the person is distracted. Then the dog goes into the path of a moving bike."

According to Dr. Adams, "It's an emerging trend and one that has not anywhere near peaked."

A passing train struck and injured an Ohio teenager as he sent a text message from his cell phone. Oblivious to the train's horns, he walked around train crossing gates. The town's mayor said that "the kid was apparently just daydreaming."

Concerned about the increase in injuries to pedestrians while texting, IL State Representative Ken Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat, has supported IL House Bill 4520, which would fine violators $25 and charge them with a midemeanor for using a cell phone or text messaging while crossing streets - even as a pedestrian!

Is this going too far? 

No, according to David Drucker of the Illinois Secretary of State Office.  "The secretary headed a task force on driver safety, and this issue came up, and he was intrigued by the idea," said Drucker. "He's seen a couple of instances of [walking and texting] himself. Right now, though, he feels that it needs more study."

Read more in Louis R. Carlozo's article in last Tuesday's Chicago Tribune.


Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:33 PM by Dean's Team


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