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Latarski: Distracted idiot
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It's one of those things so positively stupid it makes you think it might not be a bad idea.

Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love for reasons which elude me, created what was deemed a tweeting and texting lane on a downtown sidewalk.

The idea is so many people are walking around with their heads down like a bloodhound on the scent of an escaped convict while utilizing the most recent form of communication they clog up the sidewalks with pedestrian collisions.

The notion was it will give leeway to people who are so busy and important, or at least think they are, who can't stop to make a phone call or text someone a safer route on the sidewalk.

It turned out this was an April Fools' Day prank but you have to wonder if it is not a good plan.

I have seen head-on collisions on the sidewalk between two people who were so absorbed in telling someone they just bought a new pair of shoes or won $5 on a scratch-off that were harder than most hits from Falcons defensive backs.

These collisions can result in everything from an exchange of false teeth to a first date.

Having someone coming at you with their nose tucked into some hand-held device is a little like the moron who will not dim the bright lights at night. The desire is to put your lights on bright just for meanness but it is better that one of you can see where you are going than both of you being blinded and ending up in a ditch.

Pedestrian collisions are increasing because of all this new technology. And generally speaking, standing your ground and letting the person plow into you, and hoping they drop their electronic monstrosity and having it explode on the concrete, is a satisfying plan.

But usually we see the distracted person coming and - being an alleged civilized society - we step aside and let the person go merrily on their way, oblivious to the collision you just went out of your way to avoid.

At least when people are talking out loud these days they are normally looking straight ahead and you have to assume they are communicating with a live person, although I have seen some who appeared to have been trying to talk with their imaginary friend and were just waiting for the bus to take them to the home for the sick and weird.

But texting and tweeting has eliminated even the slight attention span the cell phone offenders.

This form of communication has become so common perhaps it is time to take steps to give it some rules just like we have for the highways.

We have bike lanes and jogging trails so why not a Distracted Idiot Pedestrian Lane?
The DIP Lane would allow one to text message away while walking as long as you stayed between the lines. If a Dipper waddles out of the lane and knocks someone down they would be subject to fines and penalties, paid directly to the victim for pain, suffering and mental anguish.

If someone knocked me down I would immediately claim it ruined my golf swing and the court would side with me.

"How did it ruin your swing when the witness we brought in said you already had the worse golf swing in the world," the defense attorney might ask.

"Because your witness hasn't been all over the entire world and besides, your client veered out of the DIP."

"You win," the judge will say.

The guvmint could even require pedestrian collision insurance. President Obama could make this part of his next health care plan.

In Atlanta, where it has become as common as pollen to see someone walking down the street texting, we could make the DIP toll lanes.

This could be a source of much needed revenue and people who do not pay could be jailed, and if you go to jail remember that the United States Supreme Court ruled you can be stripped search so it does not matter where you try to hide your iPod.

It may have been a practical joke in Philadelphia and DIP Lanes may be an idea over the edge but you can bet right now someone walking down the street somewhere is texting and just collided headfirst into a lamp post.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at