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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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July 30, 2012 - 2:33 pm

The quote comes in the context of an Associated (with stupid big government ideas, terrorists, and generally shoddy journalism) Press story about the deadly menace of people texting while they’re walking around. Are they walking into nuclear power plants, causing deadly meltdowns and taking entire regions off the power grid? Are they texting their way into the cockpits of crowded airliners thereby taking them out of the sky? Are they texting their way en masse onto crowded freeways, slowing the velocities along normally speedy interstates into a Los Angeles-style crawl? Has their pedestrian texting brought about the zombie apocalypse? No, they’re walking into poles and off train platforms, stuff like that. Here are a few of the cases causing civilizational panic.

The cases include a 24-year-old woman who walked into a telephone pole while texting; a 28-year-old man who was walking along a road when he fell into a ditch while talking on a cellphone; a 12-year-old boy who was looking at a video game when he was clipped by a pickup truck as he crossed the street; and a 53-year-old woman who fell off a curb while texting and lacerated her face.

One 67-year-old man walking along the side of a road was hit a by a bicyclist who was talking on a cellphone as he rode. The pedestrian injured a knee.

Those banal tales of not much woe don’t lead the piece. Instead, here’s the lurid opening, which does not end in gross bodily harm.

A young man talking on a cellphone meanders along the edge of a lonely train platform at night. Suddenly he stumbles, loses his balance and pitches over the side, landing head first on the tracks.

Fortunately there were no trains approaching the Philadelphia-area station at that moment, because it took the man several minutes to recover enough to climb out of danger. But the incident, captured last year by a security camera and provided to The Associated Press, underscores the risks of what government officials and safety experts say is a growing problem: distracted walking.

On city streets, in suburban parking lots and in shopping centers, there is usually someone strolling while talking on a phone, texting with his head down, listening to music, or playing a video game. The problem isn’t as widely discussed as distracted driving, but the danger is real.

As real as texting while failing to control two tons of steel and glass at 80 mph on I-35? I’m dubious.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported.

The AP’s writer was probably writing while distracted. That sentence finished with what’s known as a guesstimate. He pulled it out of somewhere other than the latest alarmist post from the CDC.

There has been a spike in pedestrians killed and injured in traffic accidents, but there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics.

“No reliable data” in the past used to mean no story, and therefore no call for government to go all busybody. How times have changed. Now, it’s “no reliable data, no problem!”

Here comes the money quote.

State and local officials are struggling to figure out how to respond, and in some cases asking how far government should go in trying to protect people from themselves.

In Delaware, highway safety officials opted for a public education campaign, placing decals on crosswalks and sidewalks at busy intersections urging pedestrians to “Look up. Drivers aren’t always looking out for you.”

Philadelphia officials are drafting a safety campaign that will be aimed in part at pedestrians who are looking at their devices instead of where they’re going. “One of the messages will certainly be `pick your head up’ — I want to say `nitwit,’ but I probably shouldn’t call them names,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities.

No, you shouldn’t. Nitwit. What do you wanna bet this government official texts while walking all the time?

I’m not the first to observe this, but we have gone from a government ordered to safeguard our God-given liberties (that’s who the “Creator” is when the Founders make that reference) to a government going out of its way to devise new “crises” as excuses to protect us from our own formerly sovereign selves. The road we are on with respect to our government, or more accurately without any respect of our individual freedom from our government, is not a good one and it will not end well. That the mainstream media now often acts as little more than conduits for government press releases is a crime against the idea of a truly free press.

h/t The Brian Wilson Show

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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