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Diego Avila
Diego Avila
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Fort Lee, NJ, Takes On the Dangers of Distracted Walking

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There is a poem by Charles Baudelaire called "To a Passerby" with a line that reads "The delight of the city-dweller is love – not at first sight but at last sight." The idea was that the city was where crowds of people would walk on the city streets and you would inevitably be awestruck by the beauty of someone passing you by that you would never see again.

This assumes, of course, we see anyone's face walking down a street.

The city of Fort Lee, NJ (just across the George Washington bridge from upper Manhattan) has taken actions to reduce the danger posed by people texting on their phones as they walk. In a world of unlimited text plans, 4G download speeds, and mobile apps for Twitter, Facebook, and stock trading, driving isn't the only activity that appears to become less safe thanks to our phones.

Two professors at Stony Brook University conducted a study that showed people texting while walking were 60% more likely to veer off line than non-texters. Co-author of the study, Eric Lamberg, urged people to consider that texting "disrupts your ability [to stay on course] much more than does talking."

The city has turned texting while walking into a civil infraction for jaywalking with a whopping $85 fine. Obviously, some residents are upset by the cost of the fine as well as the basis for the citations as a whole.

There are some easy ways though you can reduce the risk of harm posed by distracted walking:

1. Sit at a bench to send or receive that critical text.

2. Wait until you reach your destination to send or receive that critical text.

3. Stop inside a store, cafe, or other location with less traffic to send or receive that critical text.

Your body will thank you the next time you are able to assess oncoming danger because your eyes and senses were attuned to where you were traveling rather than the mobile in your hand. And if you happen to be in Fort Lee, NJ, your bank account will thank you as well.