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January 2011 Archives

texting while walking can be dangerous

For those who follow my posts on the hazards of texting while driving (and yes there have been a lot) you will find this story very interesting. It seems that a young woman who works at the Berkshire Mall in Reading was strolling through the mall while texting on her cell. You'll have to watch the video to believe it. Well she tripped and fell into the fountain in the middle of the mall. The story was covered by WFMZ yesterday. It's a bit humorous if not down right funny (since no one was hurt). The video has been posted on  YouTube and viewed by millions according to the victim. Well I guess it goes without saying but bears repeating - how could anyone (after seeing this video) ever consider texting while driving? Attention distraction = diminished reaction. Now imagine driving at speeds up to 50mph and having to react to someone pulling into your lane or someone in front of you suddenly hitting their brake? Tumbling into a pool of water is a small lesson from which we can all learn. Consider the following: from the time you recognize the danger, like the car suddenly stopping, until the time you can bring your car to a halt depends on a number of factors. First, how well are you focused on your driving? Experts tell us that reaction time (the time it takes from appreciation of a danger until the time your brain sends the command to your foot) can take up to ½ of a second. Then there is the time it takes to get your foot from the gas pedal to the brake - another ¾ of a second. The car hasn't even started stopping yet and you have already traveled a large part of the closing distance between you and the car ahead. Finally, there is the actual stopping distance that it takes for the car to come to a stop. At 30mph total stopping distance can be 35 to 40 feet. At 50 mph it can be 75 to 100 feet, and at 60 mph it can be over 125 feet. Consider that someone walking at a speed of around 2 mph cannot avoid walking into a fountain while texting and - well - you get the message. Dennis F Feeley     

NFL and the US military have common ground in helmet safety

According to this month's issue of National Geographic magazine the NFL and military have a common ground in trying to protect the brains of our young men in "uniform". Previously, I posted on the new technology available at the University of North Carolina that places accelerometers inside helmets to measure the "g" forces of impacts as well as their location. According to National Geographic's report, one 21 year old defensive end took 537 hits to the head during a season of football. Two of those hits resulted in concussions. On average a football player at UNC takes 950 hits to the head during a season.  Research being conducted supports a finding that a lot of smaller hits may be worse than one big hit. The location, frequency and magnitude are all a part of assessing the overall damage. This topic has received a lot of media coverage this year. The NFL has changed some of its rules and congressional hearing are being held. With the US military becoming involved a whole new resource has become available. The article also discloses that advanced brain imaging techniques are being developed and even the use of genetic markers that could be used to identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy. All of this is good news for all of our young men and women whose most valuable resource - their brain - is often put in harm's way. Dennis F Feeley   

your cell phone content may be subject to search

There is no law directly dealing with this issue in Pennsylvania, but in California the Supreme Court has ruled that cell phone content, including texts, are subject to search by police. The California court ruled that the police had the right to look at the content of a suspect's cell phone without a warrant. The suspect was believed to be a drug dealer and the police suspected that he may have sent a text- message to another dealer. Sure enough - they were right. The text was used as evidence. The bad guy plead guilty but preserved the right to take an appeal. The use of social media of all types including Face Book, Twitter and similar technological messaging devices continue to raise new issues about the Fourth Amendment and our "expectations" of privacy. In the past tape recordings or videos (called film in the "old days") were the  most surreptitious methods of surveillance - and even they had limited use. Today's world which is filled with instant and continuous methods of communication has created legal issues beyond those possibly imagined by the framers of our constitution. Take into consideration that every text, tweet and - yes - blog are out there for all to see. Do not fool yourself into thinking that the delete button erases something you "want to take back". Once the send button has been hit there is no way to take it back, either now or forever. We can talk for pages about why people seem to have the need to expose themselves, but the fact is we have become the world of science fiction I used to read as a kid. With it we have lost a little of our common sense. Don't whisper down the alley unless you are prepared for the consequences? Dennis F Feeley        

AT&T sends powerful message about texting while driving

"Two thumbs up" to AT&T for the incredible video they produced documenting true life stories involving accidents caused while texting. Don't Text While Driving. AT&T produced this documentary just before the holidays, primarily to scare the heck out of teenagers. If it didn't work on them - it sure worked on me. This is a powerful instruction tool. Much like the seat belt campaigns of the 80's and 90's this video is very graphic and involves real-life stories. If you have a teenager in your family this is compulsory viewing. Not a day goes by when I don't see someone not paying attention behind the wheel of a car because they are using a cell phone. The continued studies could not be any clearer. Put the cell phones down while you are driving. Dennis F Feeley    

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