Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pay Attention !

Pay Attention to What You Are Doing
The article below from The Daily Toreador by Matt McGowan is a REAL problem not only to college students on campus, but to all people who keep earphones to their ears, use text messaging while walking or driving, or talking on cell phones while walking or driving.

In reading McGowan's post, it had never occurred to me the unsafe practices in using these electronic devices while doing things like "walking and chewing gum!" This is a VERY important Safety Precaution for people using them.

This post makes total Horse Sense.

Pedestrian use of personal electronics poses safety risks

Matt McGowan

Issue date: 9/2/08 Section: La Vida

When Cindy Maxwell drives her bus route through Texas Tech's campus, she knows what to look for: plugged-in pedestrians who, instead of looking back at her, are glued to a little screen.

Although officials cannot accurately gauge how many serious personal electronics-related pedestrian accidents have occurred in Lubbock, the unrelenting rise in the use of personal electronics may be the main ingredient in a recipe for disaster.

"Last week, I was driving between Wall Hall and Gates (Hall), and there was a kid standing on the curb talking on his cell phone," said Maxwell, an eight-year veteran of driving buses. "I just knew he was going to step out. I was going real slow and I had a whole bus full of kids and was just creeping along. He just walked. Never looked up."

While the majority of pedestrians' distractions stem from cell-phone conversations and text messaging, she said iPods and other personal electronics also inhibit a student's situational awareness as they stroll through campus.

Determining how many pedestrian accidents involved electronics can prove tricky for investigators, said Capt. James Shavers of the Lubbock Police Department, because many victims refuse to admit that they were distracted when they got into the accident.

The lack of statistics, however, does not rule out risk, he said, especially when one considers the pervasive nature of electronics in society.

Shavers said he once saw a student wearing headphones as he walked toward campus through a construction zone.

"I was having to blow my horn and hit my siren because he had his iPod going," he said. "If he couldn't hear me with my siren next to him, then he couldn't hear somebody yelling, 'Hey, look out. There's a bulldozer coming.'"

Cpl. Jack Floyd with the Texas Tech Police Department said he cannot recall any serious accidents on campus that involved pedestrians who were distracted by electronics, but he understands the Russian Roulette-type risk associated with being plugged in while walking near traffic.

But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened elsewhere.

"We've been kind of lucky," said Dr. Juan Fitz, a doctor who works in the emergency room of Covenant Medical Center, "but we have had the reports of this kid from El Paso who was in New York. He had just gotten engaged. He was excited and telling his friends. Basically he wasn't paying attention, got into the street and got run over.

"The last text message he sent was telling them what he was going to give her for their wedding."

Not all pedestrian accidents involve cars, Fitz said. In fact, the electronics-related pedestrian injuries that he has seen in the emergency room resulted from people who weren't paying attention as they climbed up or down stairs.

"When you're out, look around," he said. "You'll see a lot of people text messaging, on the phone, looking down. They're not paying attention. That's very unsafe. Very unsafe."

As a bicyclist who rides six miles per day, Fitz said he never wears headphones when he cycles and leaves his cell phone at home so he can be "constantly listening to traffic."

"If you're going to talk on (cell phones), stay stationary," Maxwell said. "Don't walk and talk on them. I know that's impossible, but it's for their life, their safety. Just stay stationary for a minute or call them back, you know. A bus is big."

Many pedestrians assume they have the right-of-way on campus, Shavers said, so they assume cars automatically will stop for them, which is an unsafe assumption.

Taking risks when it comes to pedestrian-car accidents is a serious gamble, he said, because cars will severely injure pedestrians, regardless of whose fault it was.

"Even if you're right, that's not necessarily going to keep you alive," Shavers said, "so you need to be alert and watch for traffic."

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