When I was a junior in college, I had a job as a nurse’s aide at a health-related facility for elderly people. It was not quite a nursing home, but similar. My shift was 12 am to 8 am, perfect for studying, but not so much for a partying life. The facilty was about a mile and a half from the closest bus stop. Not one to let a little problem like the streets being dark and deserted stop me from a job I liked and a decent income, I would get off the bus, look determined and mean, put my keys between my fingers and briskly walk or run down the middle of the road. This was the day before cell phones so having one with me to call in an emergency was not possible. I was probably safer without one.
A recent study, as reported in Science Daily, has shown that people with cell phones, particularly college students, particularly women, may put themselves more at risk because of cell phones. This is similar to the problem of jogging while listening to music. When people, namely women, carry a cell phone or talk on it while walking, they feel safe and are not aware of their surroundings. Not being aware puts them (and also men) at risk. While I was heading down the dark road right before midnight, I knew exactly what was going on around me. I wasn’t nervous, but I was aware, and as I walked I thought about strategies about where I might head if there was a problem.
If I had a cell phone, I probably would have been chatting away, not paying one bit of attention to the shadows and maybe missing the sound of a person coming up behind me. So, the moral is, while walking at night if you have to, don’t talk on the cell phone. Have it ready if you need to make that quick call, but stay alert. It’s kind of fun to see what thoughts float around in your head anyway in between the glances you should be making to your right and left.
One more thing, as pointed out in the article, turn the thing off when you cross streets. Pedestrians (men or women), cell phones and cars don’t mix.