It’s interesting how product brands become generic terms for all similar products. In New Zealand, for many years, a vacuum cleaner was a “Hoover”. Sticky tape is “Sellotape” to me and always will be.
And so it has happened that “iPod” is perhaps not used to directly refer to another brand of music player, but certainly to the product concept as a whole. Today’s story on Stuff, titled “Pedestrian death rise blamed on iPods“, certainly continues the trend, but that’s only the beginning of where this article misses the mark.
If we are to take the headline literally, then the blame for the rise in numbers has been attributed to music players. Yet the opening paragraph reads
Death by iPod is being blamed as a contributing factor to the 25 per cent rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities in the Australian state of New South Wales.
Note the words “contributing factor”, which describe a concept utterly absent from the headline. But even then, the basic conjecture of the article is stretching credulity
The issue has been highlighted in Sydney by the death of a 46-year-old Glebe woman reportedly wearing headphones when she was knocked down and killed by an ambulance on Saturday night.
There is speculation she might not have heard the ambulance siren when crossing Parramatta Road at Mallett Street at Camperdown.
Agreed. You can technically only speculate whether the woman heard the siren as she is no longer alive to ask. I think it’s fairly safe to assume, however, that she didn’t hear it and still walk in front if of it. So one might assume, at this point, that her failure to hear the siren was a major contributing factor to her death. What I’d like to know is why did she have a blindfold on? Or was it one of those cool 3D-projector glasses things?
When I was taught how to cross the road, the basic instructions were “Look right. Look left. Look right again.” In New Zealand, we drive on the left, so if you’re in a country where you drive on the right, just reverse the directions and you should be good. In more recent years, I’ve seen a different phrase “Stop. Look. Listen.” It seems clear to me that this woman followed neither set of instructions because, surely, an ambulance traveling at speed with flashing lights on its roof must be pretty hard not to see!
If you are now thinking it is quite incredible that someone would walk out into a roadway without first looking for traffic, then you’re probably not a pedestrian in New Zealand. Certainly not Wellington. My home town. The thing is, I see people walking out onto roads without looking very often. Every. Single. Day. Most of them do not have earphones or earbuds on or in their ears. Many are alone. Some are with friends. All of them are idiots.
I don’t know if the average attention level of NSW pedestrians is any higher than in Wellington, but I’d wager it’s probably quite low if the increase in deaths has been 25%. I was once told a figure of how many people get hit (though not necessarily killed) by vehicles in Wellington each year. I think it was something like 437. More than one a day!
The issue then takes a final, harrowing turn into this
‘The government is quite happy to legislate that people can lose two demerit points for having music up too loud in their cars, but is apparently unconcerned that listening devices now appear to have become lethal pieces of entertainment,” he said. ”They should legislate appropriate penalties for people acting so carelessly towards their own welfare and that of others.
”Manufacturers … should be made to [warn] consumers of the risks they run.”
If you’re happy with your government having to legislate to protect you from yourself, then you have nothing to worry about – “Nanny State” is probably a term that gives you warm fuzzies. For myself, I’d take a different stance and suggest that we simply scare people into taking notice. I have a feeling some Japanese game show producers could come up with something applicable.
So, when you first saw the title of this post, I bet you thought I’d be making some witty play on words. Nope. It’s a request. Please do as it says! I’ve seen more near misses than I really want to and I sure as hell do not want to see a direct hit. It would really ruin my day.