Texting and driving? Never a good idea.
But, walking and texting? Not such a stellar idea either. Last year, Healthline.com, reported that, “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”
Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo in New York, said “When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking.”
Jehle added that phone-related injuries, which have increased substantially over the past ten years, correspond with an increase in the use of smartphones—not only for texting but also for using social sites or checking emails. Jehle also pointed to an Ohio State University study, which found that the number of pedestrian ER visits for injuries related to cell phones tripled between 2004 and 2010.
Are Text-Walking Lanes the Answer?
In the Belgian city of Antwerp, they have now taken measures to ensure that pedestrians do not collide with other people or objects. They’ve provided pedestrians with “text walking lanes.” Some say it’s a safety measure and some say it’s just a publicity stunt. It happens to be the brainchild of a smartphone store based in the city.
Like many areas, Antwerp is trying to come up with a solution to the problem of people bumping into other people while sending or reading text messages from their mobile phones. Antwerp has given smartphone users their own designated lanes, where they can walk while texting or looking at their mobiles without irritating or endangering others. And, if the lanes reduce the number of accidents, officials said they could be made permanent.
The National Geographic TV channel launched a similar experiment on a smaller scale in Washington DC last July. National Geographic TV conducted a social experiment by placing a person in a gorilla costume outside to see how many people actually noticed it as they walked by. Many people had no idea what was going on around him.
In China, the Chinese authorities had a lane marked out for mobile users on a 100ft stretch of pavement in a theme park called ‘Foreigner Street’ in the city of Chongqing in September. Officials were quoted as saying the markings were intended to remind people that “it is best not to play with your phone while walking.”
Is this the New Reality or Over the Top?
In populated areas, it’s difficult to dodge text-walkers without getting bumped. I suppose that text-walking lanes would at least keep them centralized in one area. With the rise and usage of smartphones, I can’t imagine the issue will decrease any time soon. Technology may change but unless we have a cultural shift in mentality, I can’t foresee an attitude change in the way we use our smartphone in the near future. Society feels the need to be constantly connected.
Why the Need to be Connected Round the Clock?
Technology as taken over our lives. And, have you ever misplaced your phone? Panic! According to a survey from PsychologyToday.com, 73% of people feel panicked if they misplace their phone. Another 14% feel desperate and 7% feel sick. Only 6 % feel relieved.
We seem to rely on our phones for everything. We check social media sites, we check work and personal email, we Instagram, we tweet, we share photos and we take a lot of selfies. We even use it to bank, buy our Starbucks, and break up with our partners.
According to another poll by SecurEnvoy , 70 % of women have phone separation anxiety as opposed to 61 % of men. About 75% of people have their smartphone less than five feet away at any given time.
Yep. Smartphone addiction.
Maybe it’s you or just someone you know. I know I’m guilty. I can leave my office and two minutes later, I’m waiting for the elevator and checking email. And, seriously, what would have come through in two minutes that couldn’t wait? Nothing. Yet, I check. I obsessively check. (No texting and driving though, ever…)
So, maybe the text-walking lanes are not such a bad idea even if it seems to be some sort of joke. I guess, at least, texters bump into each other rather than other non-texting people.
But, connectivity isn’t all bad. It helps us check in on our friends and family easily. And, there are numerous other advantages that comes from smartphones. For me, it’s made my life much easier than pre-smartphone. But, as the National Geographic TV experiment points out, if you walk by a person in a gorilla suit and you don’t notice — you might want to decrease your usage. It probably wouldn’t hurt you to look up and look around. You never know what good things you could miss.
As for me, I’m planning on spending some time at the lake soon and my goal is to enjoy, just enjoy. No smartphone. No being worried about what I’m missing. No being worried about work. Will I make it? We’ll see!
Your Turn: Text-walking lanes? Crazy idea or the way of the future?