Celebrated director Werner Herzog’s powerful 35-minute documentary film takes a tough look at the aftermath of a split second error – texting while driving. It was released in early August and already has nearly 2 million views. It tells the stories of people who suffered the effects of texting-while-driving accidents — told by victims, first responders, and by the people who caused the accidents by texting.
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OK, you’ve heard about distracted driving – but were you aware that distracted walking could be a problem, too? Although it may sound funny, it’s a real thing and not a joke. Just as happens to drivers, pedestrians experience reduced situation awareness, distracted attention and unsafe behavior when talking or texting on mobile phones.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 1,152 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms after being injured while using a cellphone or some other electronic device in 2010 — and the number had doubled since the year before. The increase in pedestrian injuries paralleled and even exceeded distracted driving injuries.
Falling onto a train track
Falling off a pier
Scary run-in with a bear
A little humor to make a serious point
Distracted walking is a serious topic but it prompted fun-loving pranksters Improv Everywhere to launch an army of “Seeing Eye People” to protect the many distracted walkers in New York – a funny way to make a serious point.
When it comes to driving distractions like cellphones and texting, most people underestimate the danger that they pose and overestimate their own ability to multitask at the wheel. The New York Times has created a text while driving simulator, an interactive game that measures how your reaction time is affected by external distractions. Try it out and see how you do.
According to a news story accompanying this game, there is extensive research documenting the dangers of distracted driving:
“Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated. Research also shows that hands-free devices do not eliminate the risks, and may worsen them by suggesting that the behavior is safe.
A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.
Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Instead, they increasingly use phones, navigation devices and even laptops to turn their cars into mobile offices, chat rooms and entertainment centers, making roads more dangerous.”