When one thinks of cell phone distractions, they often think of using the phone while driving. While it’s true that distraction by phone is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents, cell phone distraction can go deeper than that.
The San Francisco Gate tells the real life story of cell phone users being completely distracted by their devices while a young man was gunned down in front of them.
A man standing on a crowded Muni train pulls out a .45-caliber pistol.
He raises the gun, pointing it across the aisle, before tucking it back against his side. He draws it out several more times, once using the hand holding the gun to wipe his nose. Dozens of passengers stand and sit just feet away - but none reacts.
Their eyes, focused on smartphones and tablets, don't lift until the gunman fires a bullet into the back of a San Francisco State student getting off the train.
Investigators say this scene was captured by a Muni camera on Sept. 23, the night Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, allegedly killed 20-year-old Justin Valdez in an apparently random encounter.
According to the SF Gate, researchers have been looking into cell phone distractions for almost 10 years. Various studies have been performed, and most results show that distracted people are more likely to miss warning signs of danger than people who are engaged in what’s going on around them.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said, in a statement to the SF Gate, that they see this sort of thing all the time, especially when it comes to cases of phone theft.
"Oftentimes when you interview people who get their phones stolen, when you ask them to describe where the person came from, what he was wearing, they have no idea," said Suhr. "It's not uncommon to read in a police report that a person 'came out of nowhere' or 'I didn't see where he came from.'"
Still, it’s been proven that cell phones are sometimes that best way to prove that crimes happened, with many people catching incidents on video for the footage to later be used as evidence. Unfortunately, when a situation like the one that happened on the train in San Francisco occurs, it’s a reminder of the sometimes devastating part that technology plays in society.