[nfb-talk] Fw: Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky

Darian Smith dsmithnfb at gmail.com
Mon Jan 25 20:17:01 UTC 2010

Good Morning list,
  First off, thanks for the post John.
 Second.  It seems as if it comes down to people not   watching where
they are going.  As a blind person this  same thing can  happen, just
as often I think, but  you would think that a blind person would
simply continue to use their cane and be aware that they might  not
want to  continue in conversation once they  approach street corners
and wish  to cross them.
 How does this work for dog handlers?
 I'd be interested to know.

On 1/25/10, John G. Heim <jheim at math.wisc.edu> wrote:
> Below is a copy of an article someone forwarded to meabout how dangerous it
> is to walk and use your cell phone. The reason I'm forwarding it is that I
> wwork on the campus of the University of Wisconsin and I can confirm that
> this is a problem. Over the past few years, the number of collisions with
> other pedestrians that I have experienced has increased dramatically. Almost
> without exception, when I have a collision with someone, they're talking on
> a cell phone or listening to an ipod.  Last summer I was hit by a girl on a
> bicycle. She got knocked down and at first I was very apologetic. But then
> on-lookers told me that she was talking on a cell phone when she hit me. So
> she was riding her bike on a crowded sidewalk and talking on her cell phone.
> In retrospect, I think she was lucky she didn't hurt me.
> Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 8:32 AM
> Subject: Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky
>> Driven to Distraction
>> Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky.
>> SAN FRANCISCO - On the day of the collision last month, visibility was
>> good. The sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked, Tiffany Briggs,
>> 25, was talking to her grandmother on her cellphone, lost in conversation.
>> Very lost.
>> "I ran into a truck," Ms. Briggs said.
>> It was parked in a driveway.
>> Distracted driving has gained much attention lately because of the
>> inflated crash risk posed by drivers using cellphones to talk and text.
>> But there is another growing problem caused by lower-stakes multitasking -
>> distracted walking - which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and
>> an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, a toy left on
>> the living room floor or a parked (or sometimes moving) car.
>> The era of the mobile gadget is making mobility that much more perilous,
>> particularly on crowded streets and in downtown areas where multiple
>> multitaskers veer and swerve and walk to the beat of their own devices.
>> Most times, the mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, like the
>> lightly dinged head and broken fingernail that Ms. Briggs suffered, a
>> jammed digit or a sprained ankle, and, the befallen say, a nasty case of
>> hurt pride. Of course, the injuries can sometimes be serious - and they
>> are on the rise.
>> Slightly more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008
>> because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while
>> using a cellphone to talk or text. That was twice the number from 2007,
>> which had nearly doubled from 2006, according to a study conducted by Ohio
>> State University, which says it is the first to estimate such accidents.
>> "It's the tip of the iceberg," said Jack L. Nasar, a professor of city and
>> regional planning at Ohio State, noting that the number of mishaps is
>> probably much higher considering that most of the injuries are not severe
>> enough to require a hospital visit. What is more, he said, texting is
>> rising sharply and devices like the iPhone have thousands of new, engaging
>> applications to preoccupy phone users.
>> Mr. Nasar supervised the statistical analysis, which was done by Derek
>> Troyer, one of his graduate students. He looked at records of emergency
>> room visits compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
>> Examples of such visits include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a
>> telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man
>> who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and
>> a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone,
>> spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness.
>> Young people injured themselves more often. About half the visits Mr.
>> Troyer studied were by people under 30, and a quarter were 16 to 20 years
>> old. But more than a quarter of those injured were 41 to 60 years old.
>> Pedestrians, like drivers, have long been distracted by myriad tasks, like
>> snacking or reading on the go. But the constant interaction with
>> electronic devices has made single-tasking seem boring or even
>> unproductive.
>> Cognitive psychologists, neurologists and other researchers are beginning
>> to study the impact of constant multitasking, whether behind a desk or the
>> wheel or on foot. It might stand to reason that someone looking at a phone
>> to read a message would misstep, but the researchers are finding that just
>> talking on a phone takes its own considerable toll on cognition and
>> awareness.
>> Sometimes, pedestrians using their phones do not notice objects or people
>> that are right in front of them - even a clown riding a unicycle. That was
>> the finding of a recent study at Western Washington University in
>> Bellingham, Wash., by a psychology professor, Ira Hyman, and his students.
>> One of the students dressed as a clown and unicycled around a central
>> square on campus. About half the people walking past by themselves said
>> they had seen the clown, and the number was slightly higher for people
>> walking in pairs. But only 25 percent of people talking on a cellphone
>> said they had, Mr. Hyman said.
>> He said the term commonly applied to such preoccupation is "inattention
>> blindness," meaning a person can be looking at an object but fail to
>> register it or process what it is.
>> Particularly fascinating, Mr. Hyman said, is that people walking in pairs
>> were more than twice as likely to see the clown as were people talking on
>> a cellphone, suggesting that the act of simply having a conversation is
>> not the cause of inattention blindness.
>> One possible explanation is that a cellphone conversation taxes not just
>> auditory resources in the brain but also visual functions, said Adam
>> Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco.
>> That combination, he said, prompts the listener to, for example, create
>> visual imagery related to the conversation in a way that overrides or
>> obscures the processing of real images.
>> By comparison, walking and chewing gum (that age-old measure of pedestrian
>> skill at multitasking) is a snap.
>> "Walking and chewing are repetitive, well-practiced tasks that become
>> automatic," Dr. Gazzaley said. "They don't compete for resources like
>> texting and walking."
>> Further, he said, the cellphone gives people a constant opportunity to
>> pursue goals that feel more important than walking down the street.
>> "An animal would never walk into a pole," he said, noting survival
>> instincts would trump other priorities.
>> For Shalamar Jones, 19, the priority was keeping in touch with her
>> boyfriend. Last month while she was Christmas shopping in a mall near San
>> Francisco, she was texting him when - bam! - she walked into the window of
>> a New York & Company store, thinking it was a door.
>> "I thought it was open," she said, noting that no harm was done. "I just
>> started laughing at myself."
>> The worst part is the humiliation, said Christopher Black, 20, an art
>> student at San Francisco State University who 18 months ago had his own
>> pratfall.
>> At the time, Mr. Black said, the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians.
>> So he decided he could move faster if he walked in the street, keeping
>> close to the parked cars. The trouble is he was also texting - with a
>> woman he was flirting with.
>> He unwittingly started to veer into the road, prompting an oncoming car to
>> honk. He said he instinctively jumped toward the sidewalk but, in the
>> process, forgot about the line of parked cars.
>> "I splayed against the side of the car, and the phone hit the ground," he
>> said. He and his phone were uninjured, except for his pride. "It was
>> pretty significantly embarrassing."
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Darian Smith
Skype: The_Blind_Truth
Windows Live: Lightningrod2010 at live.com
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