May 25, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 00:00
In my maniacal zeal to get to work early, I’m often tempted to run people over — the slower people, that is, who are smaller than I am. This is survival of the fittest in the working world.
You see, some people aren’t in sync with the rush-hour madness, and they tend to be troublesome when you have to get to your cubicle in a hurry so you can shackle yourself to the desk before the Boss Man arrives.
The other morning, I almost had a rear-end collision with a fellow who was meandering through Grand Central, doing a crossword puzzle while dozens of crazed pedestrians struggled to pass him. What’s a six-letter word for “nitwit"?
Hazards are everywhere, and there’s nothing more death-defying than getting tripped up by people pulling their luggage on wheels like a caravan of Samsonite salesmen.
A growing number of pedestrians don’t watch where they’re going because they’re too busy text-messaging, which clearly has become the scourge of the 21st century.
I often encounter text-messengers on escalators when I’m rushing to get to the train, and I have to suppress the urge to push them down and stampede over them like a rampaging buffalo; however, my civilized nature generally prevails, and I’ll politely hiss, “Excussse me,” when I really want to grumble, “Get the #%#@% out of the way!”
The tragic reality is that distracted pedestrians are getting killed because they wander around without looking where they’re going. When they cross the street, they’re usually fiddling with their smart phones instead of watching the traffic, and many of them can’t hear what’s going on around them because they’re listening to music on their headsets.
Experts call this a “loss of situation awareness,” and it has turned into a public health crisis that is causing an increasing number of pedestrian accidents, with people being hit by cars and trains, not to mention one another.
Four years ago, the New York Legislature considered a proposal that would prohibit the use of portable electronic devices when crossing New York City streets, but the bill went nowhere, and a similar measure failed in Illinois a year later.
Texas and San Francisco have started public safety campaigns to warn people that electronic gadgets, headsets and handheld devices can prove deadly.
According to a study by Ohio State University, almost half the pedestrians using cell phones were so distracted that they stepped into approaching traffic, and the number of people going to emergency rooms because of injuries related to electronic devices has been doubling annually.
The proliferation of these gadgets, combined with aging Baby Boomers, is making a bad situation worse. A study by the University of Illinois concluded that people over 59 are in greater danger of a mishap if they are multitasking while crossing the street. Researchers found that the problem was compounded when older adults were using cell phones.
Tweeting, texting and chitchatting can be fatal when traffic is barreling down on you, and that e-mail you’re about to send could be the last one.
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