Mon, Dec 15th 2008 1:53pm
At the University of Virginia, there's a professor who studies "the historic relationship between pedestrians and motorists." Lately, he's been looking at pedestrians texting on their phones while crossing the street, and he says that the phenomenon really isn't anything new, rather it's just the latest iteration of a historically recurring issue. He points out that a century ago, people crossing the street with their nose buried in a book were causing problems. The historical example is a little extreme, but it's valid nonetheless. Banning all sorts of activities, like talking on the phone while crossing the street, really isn't likely to be effective, as the professor notes. He points out that jaywalking laws didn't do much to stop people from crossing the street anywhere they liked, that in fact it was the stigma of being called a "jaywalker" (along with, presumably, the danger of getting run over) that had the biggest effect. He suggests calling people who text while they cross the street "textlemmings". That doesn't seem especially likely to catch on, but the underlying point is that, sadly, you can't ban stupidity, and laws banning things like texting while walking, don't really make people safer, and won't save stupid people from themselves. If you're already not paying attention to traffic while you walk and text, why would you suddenly pay attention to a difficult-to-enforce law?
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