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“Distracted Walking” Putting Pedestrians at Risk

“Distracted driving” may receive more attention, but the problem of “distracted walking” is becoming an increasingly common and dangerous problem. According to a recent report by the National Safety Council, distracted walking injuries involving cell phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011, making it a significant safety threat.

The findings of a 2013 Ohio State University study about the use of cell phones by pedestrians should be enough to get you to look up from your screen immediately the next time you’re walking down the sidewalk:

More than 1,500 pedestrians were estimated to be treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries related to using a cell phone while walking, double the amount in 2005.

2 Million Pedestrians Likely Injured in 2010 Alone

Not only that, but the Ohio State researchers believe that figure dramatically underestimates the scope of the problem; they estimate that in reality, about 2 million pedestrians were likely injured in 2010 due to texting or talking on their phones.

According to that same study, most pedestrian injuries involving texting or talking on smartphones were in the 21- to 25-year-old age group, with 1,003 total injuries during the seven years covered by this study. The 16- to 20-year-olds were next, with 985 total injuries.

Some cities have even experimented (with varying degrees of seriousness) with designated cellphone lanes on sidewalks for people who are using their phones. But the problem is serious, even if distracted walking receives far less attention than distracted driving. The Ohio State researchers estimated that the number of pedestrians injured due to cell phone use will double again by the end of this year if attitudes and awareness about the problem don’t change.

Increase in Accidents Leads to New Safety Initiative

Distracted walking is no doubt contributing to an overall rise in pedestrian accidents. In 2012, 4,743 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes, a rise of 6 percent from 2011. In Connecticut alone, 351 residents were killed while walking between 2003 and 2012, a figure that represents 12.6 percent of the 2,780 traffic-related fatalities in the state during this period.

Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing tragedies involving pedestrians comes to down to all of us – whether we are walking or driving – being mindful of our surroundings and following some basic safety guidelines.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

Some key safety tips for pedestrians include:

  • Walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible
  • Obey traffic lights and walk signals
  • Make yourself visible (wear bright or reflective clothing, especially when walking at night)
  • Be careful of the blind spots around cars, trucks, and buses when walking near or around them, and never walk behind a car or a truck that is backing up
  • Always assume the driver does not know that you are there and that it is up to you to stay safe

Tips for Drivers

  • Obey speed limits.
  • Pay attention to signs and street markings
  • Watch for pedestrians
  • Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way
  • Don’t assume pedestrians see you

James “Jim” Nugent: Your Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyer

I’ve worked hard to build a reputation as one of Connecticut’s premier lawyers advocating for injury victims’ rights, getting results for my clients for over 30 years. If you have suffered a personal injury or catastrophic injury, call me today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation.