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Beacon Senior News

The growing hazard of “distracted walking”

Aug 31, 2020 01:49PM ● By Michael Murphy

Rumors regarding a new iPhone coming out in the fall have started popping up on major news outlets. Note that I said rumors, not facts.

One model of the new phone “could go” as large as 6.7 inches compared to the current 6.5-inch display on iPhone 11. That’s swell, because now it will be easier for me to read all the hearing aid and funeral home ads that I receive.

Another rumor is that the new iPhone will likely be available in new colors including—better sit down for this—light orange! There are even “signs suggesting” an improved camera module which, of course, means higher definition pictures of cats kissing their owners’ noses! Hard to contain one’s excitement about that.

However, it’s about time that companies start placing warning labels on their phones.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed there is a movement proclaiming it’s time to do something about the growing hazard of “distracted walking.” Distracted walking is a lot like the distracted driving problem, which has led to bans on using phones while cruising in the car.

When I was a kid driving around town, I don’t recall distractions in the car being a big problem. Sure, I had to occasionally bang on the dashboard to get the car radio’s AM channel to come in clearly. Oh, and no doubt when the warning lights on the car’s temperature, oil, and gas gauges all started blinking bright red simultaneously, I was momentarily distracted, but just turned up the radio and kept on driving.

Today, distracted walking is a real thing. The U.S. National Safety Council has spelled out the dangers of using phones while walking in the simplest of terms: “For pedestrians, the distraction can cause them to trip, cross roads unsafely or walk into motionless objects such as street signs, doors or walls.”

Heck, I’ve been guilty of all three of those on a regular basis, and I don’t even own a phone!

Again, I don’t recall distracted walking being a thing when I was a kid. Back then, the purpose for walking was to get from Point A to Point B, like from home to work, school or church. There simply wasn’t time to be looking at funny videos while trying to get where we were going.

One thing that distracted pedestrians crossing streets should realize is that there is a very good chance many of the vehicles whizzing by are being controlled by drivers who are also staring at phones!

So remember, if you do happen to purchase the latest iPhone this coming fall, be sure to read the warning label if it has one—just don’t do it while crossing the street.

Mike Murphy is retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career. He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.

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