CELL PHONES AND DISTRACTION: Studies have shown that using cellular phones while driving is dangerous and as result, many states have passed laws banning their use while driving. But even for people using a hands-free device, talking while driving is still a distraction. New research has shown that is can cause inattentional blindness. This is the idea that a driver could look at the road, but not recognize the surroundings if sufficiently engrossed in a conversation. A similar phenomenon can affect pedestrians while walking and talking on their phones. Another major distraction is texting while driving because it takes more attention to compose and send a message than to talk.
HOW WE WALK: Walking is different from a running gait because only one foot at a time lifts off the ground. During forward motion, the leg that leaves the ground swings forward from the hip, like a pendulum. Then the leg strikes the ground with the heel and rolls through the toe in a motion similar to an inverted pendulum. The motion of the two legs is coordinated so that one foot or the other is always in contact with the ground -- a so-called 'double pendulum' strategy. The process of walking recovers about 60% of the energy expended thanks to the pendulum dynamics and the ground reaction force. (The legs act as long levers that transfer ground reaction force to the spine.)
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.