Picture this scene, you're sitting comfortably watching your smartphone when you see an app you just have to have – say to access Pandora or another music service – so you begin to download the app. As your surroundings are comfy, you never think that the clunk you just heard might – just might, mind you – have been someone crossing the street.
Won't happen to you, right?
That could never happen to you, right as you use your smartphone responsibly! Such confidence! Only fools and those this side of idiocy have such thoughts. Because mobile phone use is at a level never envisioned even 20 years ago, things like this happen all the time and the usual result as the police put on the cuffs and lead you away, is: “It isn't me! I never do that!.”
Well, it happened again Sunday night in Platonist, NH, as police led John Sheehan, 30, of Plaistow to the booking desk for an arrest on felony hit-and-run. Sheehan's offense: driving while downloading an app in his van.
He never noticed the pedestrian he had just run over. Police, who have not yet released the name of the victim, said the victim was first treated at Lawrence, MA Memorial Hospital and was later transferred to Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital where, police indicated, he will recover from his injuries.
Driver reaction, huh?
Sheehan's reaction when police arrived at his front door last night to put the cuffs on him was, according to Plaistow Department spokesman Lt. William Baldwin: “What did I hit?” as he headed east on Forrest Street Sunday night.
Lt. Baldwin quoted Sheehan as believing he had hit a tree and that he had “freaked out” and went home. It took Plaistow police two days of searching to find a van with matching front end damage and to charge the driver with at least one count of felony hit and run.
It also points out the rising dangers of smartphone use by drivers. Thinking their vehicles are really just extensions of their living rooms, most people think nothing of clamping the cellphone to an ear and talking ceaselessly to family and friends about nothing at all of real importance.
It's true that the user may think that sinking a hole-in-one on the third at the local golf links is earth-shattering news that has to be spread far and wide via text, email and phone, but it really isn't. Instead, it's an invitation to a felony hit-and-run, if you should happen to hit something while you are using your phone.
What's worse, though, is that it doesn't take a large amount of brain-power to realize you should:
Never look for an app while driving
Never download an app while driving
Never install an app while driving
If you do you may find that you'll be looking for a bail bondsman in he middle of the night as you realize that it probably I wasn't your greatest idea in life to download the smartphone app while you were driving.
Indeed, it will likely lead you to either run off a road and hit a tree (then you only have yourself to blame as long as no one else gets hurt), or if you hear and ignore a thud as you whack the bike rider who is properly dressed and driving a marked bike or run over the family and kids in the crosswalk because you are chasing a cool app then you will look pretty stupid, right?
It's unlikely the police or courts will find it a cool app because it resulted in injury. If that is the case your cool app just turned into a real stone, didn't it? On the upside, you may receive an all-expenses -paid vacation at a state-run facility with guards and towers and all sorts of nasty people rooming with you. If you are lucky you may escape with probation, although you still have a record and likely will have to pay restitution, if you are served, as well as court costs.
And, since this is such a new issue, you may find your car insurance will refuse to cover it so you may be shelling out more than you think..
To prevent any of this from happening, here's a great idea: don't do it.