driving is an incredibly dangerous activity, but just walking down the street
with your cell phone can also put you at risk. More than 1,500 Americans every
year are admitted to the hospital as a result of injuries sustained walking
while distracted by a cell phone.
We do not
generally consider walking and texting to be nearly as dangerous as driving,
but people on foot are far more likely to look at their phones for long,
uninterrupted periods. Some people become completely unaware of their
surroundings, and studies show that using a phone while walking leads to a 61%
increase in veering sharply off course and a 13% increase in overshooting the
Losing focus on your surroundings makes it far too easy to wander in the street
and be hit by a car.
from William Patterson University found that half of all people crossing a
street in New York City with a “Don’t Walk” sign were using technology. Streets
with “Walk” signs had only about 30% of their pedestrians so engaged. New York
City had 144 pedestrian fatalities last year.
The Eyes Up program has recently gone into effect to help NYC pedestrians become more aware of their surroundings. Common texting message such as “cya later” and “where ru?” have been inscribed on fake tombstones, which have then been placed around the city as overt reminders of the potentially deadly consequences of distracted walking.
Distracted walking is a growing problem. According to Healthline News, there are actually
more injuries caused by distracted walking than by distracted driving.
There is not yet a national policy in place for preventing distracted walking, but states have instituted their own penalties ranging from $197 in California to $1 in Massachusetts.
As long as distracted walking continues to receive relatively few resources and little
support, senseless injuries and deaths will continue. Anytime you are walking
in the vicinity of a roadway, make sure your phone is in your pocket and your
eyes are up.