Look outside your home, office, or car window, and you’re bound to see people walking to and from their destinations with phone in hand. While it might seem far less dangerous than using your phone while driving, distracted walking is just as much of a problem, especially when it comes to your safety. Whether you’re listening to music, texting, or scrolling through a social feed, using your phone while walking distracts you the same way it does while driving – and the result can be deadly.
Looking at the numbers released from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 6,277 pedestrians were killed in 2018, which was 250 more than the previous year. Of course, not all these fatalities were caused by distracted walking, but the fact that the numbers are steadily rising each year (along with phone use) does show a definite correlation between the two.
Cities across the United States are looking for ways to curb the problem, some cities going as far as completely banning texting while walking, like the town of Fort Lee in New Jersey. New York City has attempted to lower the speed limit in crowded areas to help pedestrians safely cross the street. Across the pond, London has placed soft padding on lamp posts on busy streets to help prevent accidents that happen when distracted walkers run face-first into the massive metal structures. Unfortunately, most of these efforts are proving unsuccessful as the real issue is convincing walkers that they need to be paying attention to their surroundings, rather than constantly looking at their screens.
While some of the accidents that are caused by distracted walking aren’t serious, some of them really are. Not only are broken bones and concussions on the rise with pedestrians, but other injuries, including brain trauma and spinal cord damage, have become more commonplace on the streets because of the rise of cell phone use. And, when struck by a car because of distracted walking, the result can be fatal.
According to scientists, distracted walking is a form of “inattentive blindness,” which is a result of the human brain being able to only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re using your phone while walking or running, you really can’t pay attention to your surroundings simultaneously, even if you feel like you are.
Even with reports showing a steady increase in distracted walking injuries, there are still plenty of injuries that go unreported each day simply because people are too embarrassed to admit how they got hurt. That means that even when people go to the hospital with broken bones caused by distracted walking, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t get reported as such.
Just as it is with driving, the best way to avoid injuries caused by distraction is simple: Pay attention. Recognizing that there’s something more important needing your attention (whether walking or driving safely) is the only way to be sure that you don’t injure yourself – or others – while getting from Point A to Point B.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office (603) 647-2600, if you or someone you know needs assistance. We concentrate in personal injury and workers’ compensation law. Always a free consultation!