By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
September 20,2010
It is dangerous to drive while talking on a cell phone. Studies indicate it is equivalent to being drunk behind the wheel. But there is another danger: walking and talking or text messaging on a cell phone. Experts say its dangers are even more profound.
It’s become the norm for most people to walk and talk on their cell phone, but that doesn’t mean its safe, especially for pedestrians crossing a busy street. Talking or texting while walking is leading to increasing numbers of injuries. Ismael Kazedata, is one of many people who are always texting while crossing the street.
“I wasn’t paying attention. I was looking down on my phone.”
People are tripping, colliding with objects or even running into one another as they chat or type on their mobile devices. Even worse, they can be hit by cars and seriously injured. Randall Pearson constantly sees near-accidents involving distracted pedestrians and drivers. He says people should pay more attention to the road.
“The main thing is, when you’re on your cell phone, do it while you’re standing there, and pay attention when you’re walking across the street.
David Rodriguez, has been injured while talking on his cell phone while walking.
“Yeah I walked into a pole once and I tripped on the sidewalk and fell down because the curb had a bump in it that I didn’t see while I was talking on my cell phone. “
The American College of Emergency Physicians warned two years ago about the dangers of text messaging and talking on the phone while walking, and driving. Their information was based on anecdotal evidence from doctors. Eric Isaacs, a physician at San Francisco General Hospital, has seen several cases of pedestrians getting injured while distracted.
“We’ve seen a young woman who walked right off the curb while talking on her phone and was hit by a car. We saw another person who was texting while walking down the sidewalk and walked straight into a utility pole and were brought here. And then we saw a case of an elderly woman who was hit by a very large college age man who was texting, hit her on the sidewalk, knocked her over and was brought here as a result of her injuries.”
Stanford University researchers found that recent emergency room visits resulting from pedestrian cell phone accidents have been doubling each year, with more than 1000 visits in 2009. Injuries included walking into a pole while texting, or falling. And many more are likely to have gone unreported.
“So the use of multiple media technologies as one time – watching TV while reading, while surfing the web, doing multiple chats while watching videos, etc., is really affecting our brains in profound ways, in particular it is leading to a fragmented view of the world.”

In at least two American states, New York and Illinois, have considered laws limiting the use of personal electronic devices by pedestrians but no bills have been passed. Technology experts in California have come up with a new state of the art hands-free device that maybe able to help keep eyes and hands free while walking.
“We think people are more and more relying on their mobile devices. And again people have this desire to be connected at all times and we don’t see that going away. So we really think about anyone who has that desire to be mobile and out there and connected is who this will apply to because it’s about how do you enable them to not be distracted with their eyes and hands focused on this device but still achieve what they’re trying to do.”
Aliph’s Jawbone earpiece incorporates voice-to-text technology which eliminates the need to glance down at the keypad to send an e-mail or text message.
“This is an example of how I can send an email using my voice hands free.”
But even in fast-paced societies, there is one easy solution – putting the cell phone away and simply stop talking, talking, talking.

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