An everyday obstacle for Peter and I...

App needed to prevent texting and walking!

App needed to prevent texting and walking!

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Columnist

Close your eyes for a minute and use your imagination. You are at the fairground watching the dodgem car rides. The cars are whizzing around in all different directions bumping into each other and there is lots of crazy noise.

Think about what it would be like to attempt to walk across to the other side through all the dodgem cars. I don’t think that you would feel safe and you’d be unlikely to get to the other side without being hit by one of the cars. It would be unwise to attempt.

If the drivers were very skilful they might manage to avoid you and you might be lucky. But what if the drivers were texting on their mobile phones. Or, even worse how about this, the drivers are also listening to music from earphones at the same time. And perhaps also they have been drinking heavily. You won’t have very much chance at all.

Following my haemorrhagic stroke five years ago I am partially blind. My eyes are healthy but my brain was injured with the result that I can only see the right-hand half of everything unless I track it perfectly looking slightly to the left of it. If things move suddenly to the left they immediately disappear and if I move suddenly to the right they immediately appear. Walking around busy places can be extremely hazardous.

I live in Witney but frequently travel to Oxford for various reasons and I usually have Peter, my guide dog, with me or perhaps a white cane. The places I visit usually mean that I walk down Cornmarket Street and also St Aldates, sometimes. If the weather is nice and the street is very busy it is just like trying to cross among those dodgem cars. That scenario that the obstacles that I must avoid are texting on their mobile phones, listening to music and perhaps slightly drunk, is a very real scenario for me, and it’s one that I must frequently contend with. It is equally confusing and difficult for Peter, especially when people are walking in groups.

Recently a young man was walking towards me and I could see that we were on a collision course but then he stepped sharply to my left and I lost track of him. The next thing I felt a large bump and collided with something. I heard a scuffle and the sound of something falling to the ground behind me and some swear words were spoken. I realised that I had knocked this chap to the ground. Peter wasn’t able to move the pair of us quickly enough out of his path.

I am a fairly strongly built 15 stone man and I was little concerned for this chap so I looked around and scanned around with my eyesight as best I could to find this chap on the floor and I asked him if he was alright but he didn’t hear me because he was too busy checking his iPhone to make sure that the screen wasn’t cracked.

Perhaps a useful innovation would be that the ‘Smart’ phone can detect whether or not you’re walking and texting at the same time and if it can do that and will switch off then perhaps it can be truly called a smart phone.

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