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Distracted walking trumps distracted driving

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There is only so much that can be done to curb cell phone distraction, but it won’t be the fault of the UK if nothing at all works. Brick Lane is one of the busy streets known for what a video calls “walking while texting.”

After enough pedestrians slammed into light posts there while looking down at their cell phones, the light posts were wrapped in goalpost padding that make the sidewalk look like the site of a weekend game. Even then, of course, the habit isn’t as much kicked as cushiony.

At SUNY University at Buffalo, emergency medicine professor Dietrich Jehle says that distracted walking actually has been measured in injuries per mile. Statistics show that distracted driving takes second place. Texting is more distracting than just talking on the phone, he notes, because, for one thing, when pedestrians are looking down at the screen, they can’t also be looking at where they are walking.

But that’s not the only issue. Texting while walking also means concurrently doing something else and thinking about something else. What might help? Jehle suggests on Science Daily that an app that applies text via voice could work, or even viewing what is ahead through the phone’s camera.

For more about distracted driving, try this:
Commentary: Multi-tasking in a car not multi-smart, study shows

Linda Chalmer Zemel teaches in the Communication Department at SUNY Buffalo State College.

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