I’ve repeatedly spoken out and publicized the problems of texting while driving and have handled more than a fair share of clients (including a high school classmate of mine) who were seriously injured by texting drivers. Like everyone I know, I’ve come close myself to colliding with driving texters and cellphone users.
I had thought, though, that texting pedestrians were relatively benign. It was funny to see videos on the Today Show of texters blindly walking into signs and light poles. Then, I saw statistics which indicate that pedestrian accidents while using a cellphone, talking or texting, are skyrocketing, as it becomes more socially acceptable to use cellphones anywhere, any time and for any purpose. 77% of the population thinks its OK to walk and text. Turns out there’s even a name for texting pedestrians – “digital deadwalkers” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in an article titled “Another digital danger: Don’t walk and text”. I was surprised to learn that two thirds of the injured were women, more than half of the injured are under 40, but 20% are age 71 or older. So much for “older but wiser”.
“Distracted walking” is clearly dangerous. In fact, my brother’s mother-in-law, a beautiful, gracious lady, was accidentally killed by a motorist when she stepped out into the street wearing the headphones that she wore while on her brisk daily walk. What a terrible, preventable accident and what a sad funeral.
So, I thought I’d seen or heard it all. But, a week or so ago, I saw one which was new to me. While driving down a crowded, two-way street in the middle of the afternoon, I ended up behind a bicyclist, a young man, late teens to early twenties, weaving from the center line to the parked cars alongside the road. Since he didn’t have his hands on the handlebars, it immediately reminded me of my early youth when my buddies and I would show off by riding our bikes short distances without using our hands to steer. I didn’t remember swerving so much nor pedaling as far, though.
When I got up behind the young man, I immediately saw the reason for his lack of control. Head down, he was texting, correcting his course only when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. While I felt like giving him a short honk to wake him from his reverie, I was afraid to do so for fear that he’d crash. I followed him for a bit until he made a right turn.
I chalked that one up to a one time experience until, several days later, while driving on the same street, I came upon the same bicyclist doing the same thing. Clearly, not a one off experience. It started me to wondering, where else people text while doing complicated activities? I know that you can text while piloting a small plane, but how about motorcycles? Does anyone text while motorcycling? How about running or jogging? Can an experienced texter do that as well?
Anyway, now I’m into collecting stories about the most unusual place or circumstance where people have seen others texting while doing something which requires more than modest concentration, so please let me know your own story or stories.