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

John Heim jheim at math.wisc.edu
Sat Jan 30 19:48:00 UTC 2010

I just take public transportation. Nobody ever gets killed riding the  

Actually, I'm being a litle facetious. Of course, I still ride with my  
friends. I am only half joking though because it does often amaze me  
who they let have drivers licenses.

On Jan 30, 2010, at 10:40 AM, Antonio M. Guimaraes wrote:

> John,
> Care are not the problem, but the careless humans driving the are.
> One need not be afraid to ride, walk or fly, lest he be confined to  
> his home.
> Antonio Guimaraes
> If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of  
> pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an  
> infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all  
> the world's great literary works in Braille.
> Shop online and support the NFB of RI at no additional cost to you.
> http://www.givebackamerica.com/charity.php?b=169
> Givebackamerica.org, America's Online Charity Shopping Mall
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John G. Heim"  
> <jheim at math.wisc.edu>
> To: "NFB Talk Mailing List" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 10:36 AM
> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fw: Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is  
> Risky
>> Holy cow! A blind person was walking and talking on a cell phone?  
>> Well, the guy had guts anyway.
>> Anybody else afraid to ride in cars? I mean, I'm not so afraid that  
>> I refuse to do it but I just don't like riding in cars any more. It  
>> makes me nervous. You're going 30 to 60 miles an hour and all  
>> that's keeping you alive is that bozo sitting next to you in the  
>> drivers seat. I don't know about your buddies but trusting my life  
>> to those guys is pretty scary.
>> I've got one friend in particular who has to slam on the brakes and  
>> yell, "Oh s**t" at least once every time we go somewhere together.  
>> That guy can't keep his mind on what he's doing for 2 minutes.  
>> Don't get me wrong, he's a wonderful human being but some people  
>> just shouldn't be allowed to drive.
>> My fear of riding in a car really began when I read about a blind  
>> congressman from somewhere down south who was killed when the car  
>> he was a passenger in careened off a bridge. This was before the  
>> days of cell phones but the driver was probably putzing with the  
>> radio or something. Drivers are always doing that sort of thing.
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bill Outman" <woutman at earthlink.net 
>> >
>> To: "'NFB Talk Mailing List'" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
>> Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 3:53 PM
>> Subject: Re: [nfb-talk] Fw: Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is  
>> Risky
>>> Very interesting.
>>> I don't remember all the details but I heard of a blind person  
>>> being killed
>>> here in Florida a couple years or so back talking on a cell and  
>>> walking, not
>>> realizing he had wandered into the street.  We've all got to watch  
>>> it when
>>> using our gadgets.
>>> Bill Outman
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org 
>>> ] On
>>> Behalf Of John G. Heim
>>> Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 10:49 AM
>>> To: NFB Talk Mailing List
>>> Subject: [nfb-talk] Fw: Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky
>>> 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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