Improv group comes to rescue of texting pedestrians with Seeing-eye People

Improv Everywhere spoofs downward-looking smartphone users

The scene-making Improv Everywhere troupe has released a pair of videos in which it pokes fun at people who can't take their eyes off their texting devices even while navigating busy streets in New York City. Improv Everywhere's solution for safeguarding oblivious walking/texting zombies: Seeing-eye People.

As has been well documented, walking and texting, like driving and texting, doesn't mix and has serious safety implications. Recent research found that pedestrians who text are four times less likely to look before crossing the street, obey traffic lights, etc., as those who aren't staring at their gadgets. Some communities have banned walking and texting, and others are trying to.

[ RELATED: Dartmouth researchers now have pedestrians and drivers covered with Android apps ]

The Improv Everywhere gag, done in collaboration with BuzzFeed, involves a supposed Department of Transportation pilot initiative in which orange-vested workers leash up others who walk and text on their smartphones.

Much hilarity ensues, as onlookers point and laugh.

In a companion video, the troupe approaches people who actually are walking and texting to see if they'd like a Seeing-eye Person to escort them.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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