When you are on your cell phone in public, you are easy prey. Don`t allow cell phones to distract you. It can and does happen!
This blog is about a different kind of self-defense, that of precaution, and making yourself less of a target to be attacked, mugged and involved in an accident by being distracted.
Think about it… when you are talking on your phone, you are devoting your attention to the conversation instead of your environment. You can’t possibly have 100% awareness of your surroundings if you’re carrying on a conversation. Remember, predators like having the element of surprise. It makes their job easier.
Avoid posting on social media while walking, it really can wait! Also, avoid texting or talking on your phone when you’re in public. Unless it’s an emergency, of course, but being on your cell phone for no good reason isn’t helping you at all.
The cell phone obsession
In our world of instant gratification, it’s becoming more and more prevalent for us to be distracted by our cell phones. Many people no longer keep cell phones in their pockets or purses.
Most people hold their phones in their hands to get their news as soon as possible. Did you know that 91% of the U.S. population now owns a cell phone? Per a report from Digital Trends in June 2015, Americans spend 4.7 hours a day on their smartphones.
The average American is awake for just over 15 hours a day, which means we spend about a third of our time each day on our phones, and we are likely not sitting or standing still in a safe place for that entire duration. You may be compromising your own safety with this cell phone obsession.
A professor at William Paterson University conducted a study of more than 21,000 pedestrians at five of the most dangerous intersections in Manhattan and found that nearly half of pedestrians crossing on a “DON’T WALK” signal and about one-third crossing on a “WALK” signal were distracted.
These pedestrians were wearing headphones, talking and/or looking down at an electronic device. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) refers to these distracted pedestrians as “Digital Deadwalkers.” Per the AAOS, more and more pedestrians fall downstairs, trip over curbs or other objects and step into traffic each year, causing injury and even death. Don`t allow cell phones to distract you.
cell phones can make you more of a target
Walking around talking on your cell phone after midnight probably isn’t the best way to keep your wits about you. You want to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night when your senses should be keener.
Your cell phone is a huge distraction.
We`ve all been places where you’re on your cell phone and you go from point A to point B and forget what happened in between. You arrive at your destination and say, “How did I get here?”
The same with headphones. You can’t hear anything around because you have the music blaring. You can’t hear traffic, trains, someone on a bike. You’d never hear someone running up behind you.
What precautions should you take at night?
It will help if you walk with somebody, because you’re less of a target. Try and stay in a well-lit, well-traveled area. Avoid those dark alleys.
If you know you’re going to be walking home late, make plans in advance so you can walk home with somebody. Your cell phone doesn’t count as a walking buddy. Don`t allow cell phones to distract you.
Universities are targets for thieves
Another issue with cell phones is they are expensive and attract thieves, which could lead to physical harm during an attack. The university environment, in general can be a target.
Think about it, the population is large. Thieves know students have laptops and other electronic devices. Unfortunately, kids leave them unattended. Ninety to 95 percent of theft reports we review are “unattended,” meaning leaving your laptop or cell phone at your desk while you go for a break or a coffee.
The same with leaving your room and offices unlocked. It’s not just students. It’s staff, too. You go down the hall for five minutes and something’s missing from your office.
A Deadly Distraction for kids
The National Safety Council is focused on efforts to eliminate distracted walking – specifically walking while using a mobile device. Kids often don’t recognize the dangers of distracted walking. Before your children head out, remind them of these year-round safety tips:
- Never walk while texting or talking on the phone
- If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
- Never cross the street while using an electronic device
- Do not walk with headphones in your ears
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if you must walk on the street, face oncoming traffic
- Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street
- Cross only at crosswalks
distracted walking injuries
According to health and safety publication EHS Today, distracted walking injuries involving cell phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011, making it a “significant safety threat.”
The trend is so alarming that it was included for the first time in the annual National Safety Council statistical report “Injury Facts,” which tracks the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths. In 2010, more than 4,000 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes, with distraction potentially playing a contributing role.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian injuries reached 78,000 in 2012, the highest number since 2001. Taking these facts into consideration, motor carriers should train drivers to be aware of distracted pedestrians and how to gain their attention to avoid striking them.
In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with distracted walking, a few states have experimented with imposing fines for texting in dangerous walking situations. In New York City, speed limits have been lowered in part to make traffic less dangerous for pedestrians.
Here are a few safety tips to help keep you safe and alert while walking:
- If you must use headphones or other electronic devices, keep the volume at a low level so you can still hear the sounds of traffic and your surroundings.
- While you walk, focus on the people, objects and obstacles around you.
- Do not jaywalk. Cross the street carefully at designated crosswalks, paying attention to the pedestrian traffic flow and the vehicles or bicycles in or near the road.
- If you need to do something that could distract you (i.e., speaking to a child or the person next to you, taking/making a phone call or sending an email/text), do so in a safe area away from the pedestrian traffic flow.
Never assume that others nearby are aware of you
Even if you are walking with a large group of people. If you have the right-of-way while crossing a street, do not assume that drivers, cyclists or even other pedestrians walking next to you are aware of you. It`s possible drivers may be on their cell phones. It does happen quite often.
While FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real for some people who feel a constant need to be digitally connected, do not forget that there is a whole world of physical activity happening around you, and some of it could involve people who may be intent on causing you physical harm. Do not allow distractions to compromise your safety.
Many assaults and robberies are done by opportunists. They are not specifically out to get you yourself, but rather someone, anyone.
Walking around the streets talking on a cell phone, listening to music through headphones and openly showing off expensive jewelry can be huge distractions and dangers that could make you the next victim of an opportunist. Do not make yourself vulnerable in this manner.
If you must go walking around at night if it’s at all possible plan out exactly where you are going and walk there confidently looking like you know where you are, do not slowly walk around looking lost like some kind of mesmerized tourist looking at everything in sight. This will simply put you right on top of an opportunists list to be robbed or assaulted.
The bottom line is this; if you are walking around with your head in your cell phone, you are running the risk of being assaulted, robbed and run over. Is your cell phone obsession worth it? Don`t allow cell phones to distract you.