Distracted Walking is as Dangerous as Distracted Driving

On days like today (70 degrees in October!), people are walking everywhere in the neighborhoods of Seattle. As I drove to run an

Distracted walking is as risky as distracted driving.

Distracted walking is as risky as distracted driving.

errand, I was amazed at the number of pedestrians who could not bother to cross at a crosswalk. These pedestrians were too busy as they gabbed on their cell or texted, while crossing a street at a busy intersection. Mind you, I’m talking about some busy, urban roads near and in downtown Seattle. These pedestrians assume that drivers are looking out for them, as they’re too distracted. Interestingly, these pedestrians were usually in their early 20’s or younger…

Dodging these clueless pedestrians reminded about a recent post that I read on End Distracted Drivers’ blog about teens as Distracted Walkers.  Dianne Anderson, the post author included some eye opening statistics.

For example,

[P]edestrian injuries among teenagers in particular have been on the rise, increasing 25 percent in the last five years in the 16-19 year-old age group… In fact, teenagers in that age group account for over half of all pedestrian deaths among children, aged 19 and under. Researchers hypothesized that the increase in pedestrian deaths in this age category was related to the use of mobile devices.

These statistics are based on a study just released by Safe Kids Worldwide, “Teens and Distraction; An In-Depth Look at Teens ‘Walking Behaviors” (August 2013).

Here are some more stunning stats:

The Safe Kids observational study of over 34,000 high school and middle school students crossing at intersections in 17 states revealed that 20% of high school students and 12% of middle school students cross the street while using a digital device.  Students were most often texting on a phone – 39%, or using headphones – 39%, and 20% were talking on the phone.

It seems that Millenials (generation born between 1980-2000) find that their environment is especially safe when a traffic light is present. But this means that teens are more willing to take the risk with their distracted walking by up to 26% in such situations. What happens if the driver is also distracted? You guessed it, there’s a much greater probability of a car-pedestrian accident, which could change the lives of those involved forever.

So, whether you’re behind the wheel or just strolling about with your cell phone, please remember that there’s a reason why texting is now against the law when you’re driving in Washington State.

In Ft. Lee, New Jersey, police began issuing $85 citations for careless walking. In Utah, the Utah Transit Authority has made distracted walking around trains punishable by a $50 fine. Personally, I think that $50 is too low.  The ultimate price, of course, is ending up maimed or killed because you were walking distracted.

*The author of the End Distracted Driving blog post referenced above is the mother of a young lady, Casey Feldman, who was killed by a distracted driver.

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