The walking wounded...
General Motors says that it is developing a new kind of safety system that will allow vehicles to wirelessly detect nearby pedestrians and bicyclists on crowded streets before their drivers can. The detection system works by linking a vehicle with a pedestrian or bicyclist’s smartphone or other Wi-Fi Direct-enabled device to determine if that person is walking into the street or in the vehicle’s blind spot.
It almost goes without saying that, in order to be detected, pedestrians would need to keep their smartphones’ Wi-Fi radios on. So if you disable Wi-Fi to save battery life, it can’t save your life.
The Nielsen folks say that 95 percent of adults have cell phones. Nearly a third of those are smart phones. Texting, checking email, checking maps, updating Facebook status, killing pigs with angry birds…
Smart phones have replaced tourists as Niagara pedestrians' biggest headache. We used to hate it when people from out of town wandered slowly on the sidewalks, looking at the Falls or looking for signs to the nearest winery.
Now it’s the walker with a phone.
We also used to walk with a certain amount of awareness of the world around us. Listening for oncoming traffic or footsteps creeping up behind us. Pickpockets who worked the crowds? Now many people walk down the street oblivious to their surroundings, fiddling with an electronic device worth hundreds of dollars.
How many times has someone almost run into you while either speaking or texting while walking? Are we getting to the point where governments will have to pass legislation against it? Security guards will be charged with ticketing mall walkers with iphones glued to their ears. Bowling over shoppers as they forge ahead oblivious of the destruction in their wake.
There may be hope, though. Society, in its natural course, may impose a new set of rules as time goes on... When cell phones were new many people didn't think twice about answering a call while sitting in a theater or a restaurant. Now they are widely frowned upon, a new social order setting in.
In the meantime, look out for yourself on the street. Smart phone users are a walking menace.