Our columnist thinks pedestrians need text education.
D o you remember those stories that began “Once upon a time…”? Well, at the appropriate age those were my favourites. One involved a kind king who wanted to help his subjects walk in comfort. He realised that there were stones on the roads, and ordered his minions to build a thin platform over every road in his kingdom so his subjects could walk anywhere barefoot.
Then a wise man suggested that instead of covering the land, the subjects cover their feet. I might have got some of the details wrong, but I learnt – at the appropriate age – that that was how shoes came into being.
Today’s kings are the research and development teams in technology companies. And one of these, exercised over the fact that texting while walking might be dangerous, has developed an alternative. Keep walking, keep texting, but remain safe by buying our product, about sums it up.
Studies have shown that texting pedestrians take 1.87 additional seconds to cross the average road compared to undistracted pedestrians.
And it’s not just crossing the road. A woman was captured on mall security cameras as she walked into a fountain because she was distracted by her phone. On another occasion a man in California was so distracted by texting his boss that he wandered into the path of an escaped bear.
While the majority of us might have read that and passed on, pausing only for 1.87 additional seconds at an average road in order to text that information to a friend, one technology giant has decided the answer is simple: transparent texting.
This new technology is designed to help us see what is in front of us (approaching vehicles, machete-waving malcontents, escaped zoo animals, a friend you’ve been avoiding for weeks, a fountain…) while we are engaged in the important task of texting while walking – or walxting, or texalking, as
A man was so distracted by texting his boss that he wandered into the path of an escaped bear
the habit might come to be known as.
The excitement of “seeing through the phone” might lead to more accidents, but no studies have been done on that yet.
Still, technology that allows us to keep our heads down and continue texting is like having the ground wear the shoes while you walk barefoot.
But there are cheaper solutions. Don’t walk and text at the same time. Leave your phone at home when you go out. Put your thumbs in plaster to avoid all temptation. Await the technology that turns the footpaths into giant screens where you can walk on the letters of the alphabet to send texts.
Text education could be the next big thing. I can already see the movie:
Text and the City.