The government reported this week that pedestrian deaths have increased while traffic related deaths continue to decline. This follows on the heels of a study done last summer in Seattle that discovered that an increasing number of pedestrians are hurt or killed due to distractions, i.e. cell phones, texting tor listening to music. Once again, I am blown away by what I call “the death of the obvious”. Thousands of dollars were more than likely spent on something you would think anyone with an ounce of common sense would know. But, therein lies the problem. Common sense has virtually disappeared and in its’ place are studies whose outcomes create slogans that are placed on billboards, crosswalks, bumper stickers, coffee cups and God knows where else. One of the researchers suggested putting signs at crosswalks that say “put down your cell phone”! So now instead of not texting or talking , you have to look around to see what the signs say. I must be getting jaded and cynical because I am really concerned that we are collectively losing our ability to be responsible for our behavior. Slogans are everywhere alerting individuals about things parents would remind us of over and over. “Look both ways, when you cross the street,” Don’t drink that yet it’s too hot”, “Don’t talk with your mouth full”, “Watch the road, when your driving”, and the constant reminder to “BE CAREFUL”. Where did those words go? Parents today are often doing the same things as their children when it comes to Smart phones and such, so how can they model otherwise. How many of them are driving, drinking coffee and talking on their cell. Now that would be an interesting research project. Caution and responsibility for ones physical and mental well-being have been exchanged for the need to attend to the sound of the cell phone ringing or the bleep of a text coming through. So you’re walking across the street, the phone rings and you have to see who it is. Your brain gets a dopamine squirt, and you forget where you are. Whoosh, you’re lying on a gurney in the emergency room( if your lucky). Distraction is fast becoming the new addiction. Not paying attention is creating losses in productivity, a decline in empathy, a reduction in face to face conversations, and a loss of lives. Will we finally figure out that we really have to focus on what we’re doing? I hope so or another study will be initiated to see how many people died looking at signs to keep them safe.