Distracted walking is a concerning behavior that has some Maryland residents laughing, but this issue is no joke. Pedestrians who walk distracted, particularly when on their cell phones, are putting themselves at more risk than ever before- even dying from making fatal errors in judgment.
People cannot seem to keep their eyes off of their cell phones. Safety campaigns have been popping up all over the country for years attempting to decrease the number of drivers using their cell phones. Unfortunately, little attention is being directed to the growing number of pedestrians blindly walking around in a cell phone fog. Residents of busy cities are especially at risk if they are not paying attention, with hundreds of hazards waiting on every street corner.
Pedestrians who are distracted by their cell phones are much more likely to participate in risky behaviors (most of the time without even knowing) including:
These risky behaviors have led to an increase in unnecessary pedestrian deaths over the years that are only becoming worse as smartphones continue to take over the lives of our society. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates at least one pedestrian dies in a traffic accident every two hours. What statistics are not showing is how many of these individuals were distracted by their smartphones, but it’s estimated to be an astounding amount.
One of the largest misconceptions about multitasking is that it’s productive. According to the NSC, our brains do not function as well when attempting to perform two demanding cognitive tasks at the same time such as walking/navigating and using your cell phone. We may think we are multitasking but what we are actually doing is only partially focusing on two things at the same time, blocking out a number of hazards and dangers in the process.
Evidence that multitasking is a myth can be seen when looking at where most distracted cell phone walking injuries occur…at our own homes! Over half of distracted walking injuries happen within our most familiar environments, with far less changing variables than a busy city street. Multitasking on a cell phone enables a huge lapse in observation and judgment to take over our brains, opening up the door for a number of injuries and accidents to occur.
Pedestrians falling victim to cell phone distractions may find themselves unintentionally walking into traffic or not paying attention to a driver who may be distracted themselves. Unfortunately, most humans do not stand a chance when going head-to-head with a car on the road. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the country in 2017, and 100 of these fatalities occurred in Maryland. Pedestrian traffic deaths have shown a steady increase since 2007, with distracted walking and cell phone use only assisting in the growing number of fatal accidents.
National and global safety advocates are searching for answers on how to prevent unnecessary injuries and fatalities due to distracted walking- it’s a lot easier said than done. A large mall in China recently created “cell phone only” lanes for pedestrians. In attempts to curb the trend of using cell phones while walking, the mall uses bright green paths to catch the attention of these distracted walkers and puts reminders on the ground such as “Please don’t look down for the rest of your life”.
In Maryland, some residents believe Ocean City is on the right track when it comes to protecting pedestrians from traffic danger through the Ocean City ‘Walk Smart’ campaign. ‘Walk Smart’ is a program specifically dedicated to educating pedestrians and spreading awareness on what constitutes as safe walking behaviors. With the GHSA reporting that 82% of pedestrian fatalities occur right outside of intersections, Ocean City just enforced a new median fence to try and prevent pedestrians from dangerous jaywalking behaviors. Other positive changes include improved lighting, signage, and local authority involvement to discourage the act of distracted walking behaviors, including using cell phones while walking.
Banning smartphones is not really an option to avoid distracted walking accidents, though it would probably decrease the problem immensely. To help reduce the chances of getting injured in a distracted walking accident involving cars, the NSC and NHTSA offer these safety tips for pedestrians to keep in mind when traveling by foot, most which will require you to get your heads up and off your screen:
Other safety tips for avoiding cell phone walking injuries include:
Overall, no cell phone call, text, or game is the worth the risk of getting hurt. Distracted walking injuries are 100% preventable just by putting your phone away and paying attention to what is going on in the world around you. Our society has supported the need for people to communicate with one another and stay entertained every second of the day through our smartphones…but that doesn’t’ mean you have to do it.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you could be eligible to significant compensation. The expert team of personal injury attorneys at D’Amore Law is prepared to fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. No legal fees unless we win!*
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