Researchers say they’re not surprised that multi-tasking pedestrians run into trouble. Psychological studies that show most people can’t focus on two things at once. Rather, their attention shifts rapidly back and forth between tasks, and performance suffers.
But like a lot of drivers who use cellphones behind the wheel, pedestrians often think they’re in control and that it’s all the other fools on their phones who aren’t watching what they’re doing.
…researchers at the University of Maryland have shown that distracted walking can have dire consequences. Their study identified 116 cases, between 2004 and 2011, where pedestrians wearing headphones were seriously injured or killed. During study period, the number of cases tripled.
As The L.A. Times points out, the problem is that people don’t see the problem of walking while distracted. “Most of us think that we can walk and text just fine,” Deborah Netburn writes. Bumping into another is a risk we’re willing to take “for the privilege of telling our dinner date we are ‘here!’ three minutes before actually walking in the door.” source
Addendum: Dec 13 2012 1 in 3 pedestrians distracted by cellphones, study says
Feb 02 2013: How our brains deal with the chaos of city life
Walking down a city street, for example, seems so simple. And so, confusing the basic act of locomotion with the hazardous scene we’re traversing, we add a smartphone to the mix.
Big mistake: “The brain has a limited processing capacity,” says Prof. Lavie, “and when it’s flooded with high information load, it shuts out any information that is not considered task-relevant. And then there’s simply no capacity left for other stimuli like the cars, people and street poles that we bump into.”
Dec 25 2013: Distracted drivers not the only menace on the road
Mar 31 2014: Texting and walking problem addressed by tech giants
Nov 04 2016: Motor Mouth: “Petextrians” proving Darwin right
Honolulu has passed a law, which will take effect Wednesday, that allows the police to fine pedestrians up to $35 for viewing their electronic devices while crossing streets in the city and surrounding county. Honolulu is thought to be the first major city to enact such a ban.
2018 June 08 For Chinese Pedestrians Glued to Their Phones, a Middle Path Emerges, in Xi’an, mentions the “heads-down tribe”. 低头族 ditouzu
July/August 2018 Issue The Dangers of Distracted Parenting
…we have been slower to reckon with its impact on children’s cognitive development. “Toddlers cannot learn when we break the flow of conversations by picking up our cellphones or looking at the text that whizzes by our screens,” Hirsh-Pasek said…
What’s going on today, however, is the rise of unpredictable care, governed by the beeps and enticements of smartphones. We seem to have stumbled into the worst model of parenting imaginable—always present physically, thereby blocking children’s autonomy, yet only fitfully present emotionally…
If we can get a grip on our “technoference,” as some psychologists have called it, we are likely to find that we can do much more for our children simply by doing less.. Your kid will be fine. But when you are with your child, put down your damned phone.