Pokemon game raises distraction fears

Safety officials are trying to stop a wave of distracted driving caused by the "Pok√©mon Go" game before it starts. Warnings have been issued in numerous states about hazards presented by the "virtual" smartphone game, in which players hunt "wild Pokemon" characters in the real world. "Catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others," officials in New York warned, noting that the craze has taken the safety community by surprise. "No Pokemoning from behind the wheel," the Washington State DOT urged in a Tweet days after the game … [Read more...]

‘Text walking’ lanes lead nowhere in Antwerp

A major mobile phone repairer in Antwerp, Belgium, scored global publicity with establishment of some "text-walking lanes" in the city. The idea was to avoid "collisions with poles or other pedestrians" -- and maybe even save the life of a clueless text-walker. Local government wasn't on board, though, and the company, Mlab, has since admitted its distracted-talking lanes were a marketing gimmick. The lanes reportedly have since been removed as illegal graffiti and the company was fined for mucking about with the social order. Mlab explained its project in Antwerp thusly: Everyone … [Read more...]

DOT: Distracted walking ‘real problem’

Saying distracted walking is "a real problem affecting our country," new DOT chief Anthony Foxx helped kicked off a program focusing on the dangers to pedestrians. "Everyone in America is a pedestrian," said Foxx, paraphrasing the new DOT campaign's slogan. The U.S. Department of Transportation has earmarked $2 million in grants for use in pedestrian safety education. Cities with high numbers of pedestrian deaths -- such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- could apply for the grants this month. (The DOT calls them "pedestrian focus cities.") More than 4,400 pedestrians lost their … [Read more...]

NYC traffic deaths up; distraction a suspect

Saying "New Yorkers are driven to distraction with their smartphones," city traffic officials reported a 23 percent increase in traffic fatalities. At the same time, the city's transportation chief relaunched a safety campaign featuring "LOOK!" curb markers that are being employed at the metropolis' most dangerous intersections. 291 people died in traffic accidents from July 2011 through June 2012, according to the Mayor's Management Report, a "public report card" on city services. 176 of them were cyclists or pedestrians. That's the first increase since 2007. Distracted driving … [Read more...]