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Monday, July 30, 2012

Distracted Pedestrians Are Just as Dumb as Distracted Drivers

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 8:25 AM

No, he won't be home for dinner.
  • No, he won't be home for dinner.

Drivers seem to really take the brunt of criticism, especially in a pedestrian-friendly city like San Francisco, where motorists and cyclists have more tension than a unhappy married couple.

But here's some news you could use: Motorists aren't the only ones guilty of texting, playing video games, and looking anywhere but at the road in front of them. Distracted pedestrians are apparently just as problematic.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the number of distracted walkers treated at emergency rooms across the nation more than quadrupled in the past seven years, the Associated Press reports. What's more, there's been a 4.2 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, though there's no information on how many of them were playing Angry Birds or listening to headphones at the time of their death.

The problem is a tricky one, and local governments aren't quite sure how to warn walkers that there's a pole right in front of them; some have tried to post signs telling pedestrians to "look up," but we're guessing that's not really effective, since most pedestrians are probably looking at their phone as they pass by that sign.

Over in Utah, officials tried to make it illegal for anyone to use headphones, cellphones, or any other electronic device while crossing the light rail tracks on city streets. However, the state Legislature nixed that idea -- polygamy sounds like a much better idea. Likewise, New York and Arkansas couldn't get bills passed to curb distracted pedestrians.

Here are some stellar examples of distracted pedestrians who were treated at hospitals for their very short-attention spans. Which one best describes you?

  • A 24-year-old woman who walked into a telephone pole while texting;

  • A man who was walking along a road when he fell into a ditch while talking on a cellphone;

  • A 12-year-old boy who was looking at a video game when he was clipped by a pickup truck as he crossed the street;

  • A woman texting while she walked through a Philadelphia

    shopping mall fell into a fountain directly in front

    of her.

Then there's the pedestrian on pedestrian crime:

  • A 67-year-old man walking along the side of a road was hit a by a bicyclist who was talking on a cellphone as he rode.

So here's the harsh reality: Psychological studies have shown that most people (that's you) cannot focus on two things at

once. That means you can't ride your bike along the Embarcadero while making a Words with Friends move.

Here's proof:

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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