Common sense needs to be used when texting

Nikki Mitchell

“Look both ways before crossing the street” is something parents ingrain in our minds from the time we are very young. Somehow, though, as we grow up, that rule becomes lost beneath the pile of electronic devices that distract us by letting us browse the internet, check our favorite social networking site, and send e-mails as we go from one place to another. This behavior has caused concern among lawmakers, though. “Look both ways and put your phone down before crossing the street” may be the new phrase children will learn when it comes to road safety.

Although funny accidents can happen, walking and texting has become a serious problem. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian fatalities increased in 2010. Distraction is believed to be part of the cause.

It’s becoming a problem because people can’t concentrate on multiple things at once. A study conducted by Western Washington University showed that while people are on a cell phone, they can have innattentional blindness and become completely oblivious to things right in front of them.  They staged a clown riding a unicycle and found that people who were either talking on their phone or texting were less likely to see the clown. It sounds goofy, but what if the clown on the unicycle was a moving car?

It seems almost impossible for legislators to ban cell phone use on public sidewalks and roads, but it’s something that needs to be done. Many people consider it an invasion of their rights, but if you really think about it, motorists and pedestrians should both be held accountable for accidents caused by distraction. If motorists are fined for reckless behavior, pedestrians should be fined. The threat of such bans alone may be enough to instill some type of responsibility in pedestrians.

Although it may be funny to watch a woman fall into a fountain while texting or watch students bump into each other as they lock eyes on phones and attempt to make their way to class, more severe mishaps are occurring on the roads due to too much multitasking. People are walking into both parked and moving vehicles. One woman even walked into a manhole while crossing. The most shocking incident was about a man who was hit by a train because he wandered over train tracks while sending a text message. Somehow he managed to look up and miss the first train, but was struck by the second when he looked back down at his phone.

Of course, people have come up with a way to make it less likely to walk into something while texting. There are a few new iPhone apps that allow your device to become “see through.” The app lets the camera stay on while texting, allowing the person to see where they’re walking through the phone. That may prevent stepping in something, but what about walking into a pole or car? Most people look down when they text, not straight ahead. Using technology to fix a problem caused by technology doesn’t seem like a suitable fix. These new apps are the same as putting padding on lamp posts so people won’t get injured if they walk into them. It doesn’t fix the problem, it just allows for the problem to continue.

If we could put our phones down for a few minutes and remember what our parents taught us years ago, bans such as these may not be needed after all.