Look both ways before crossing the street, and while you are at it, it might be a good idea to put down your cell phone or iPod. Distracted walking is increasingly the cause of serious personal injury accidents all across the nation. People pay more attention to their personal electronic devices than to their personal safety and end up paying the price. While distracted driving gets significant publicity, distraction is leading to injury in countless other ways.
Seven years ago, injuries to distracted walkers reported in hospital emergency rooms were relatively rare. Those reports have increased by 400 percent in those seven years, and the number of actual accidents is likely unknown. Reporting an injury is one thing. Admitting that you were injured because you were too busy texting to walk safely is something else. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 1,152 accidents where people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained while walking and using a cell phone or electronic device.
Some cities have begun safety campaigns geared toward getting people to recognize the danger to pedestrians posed by distracted walking. Some states have even considered laws meant to curb the number of walkers who are using cell phones and personal electronic devices. The measures have yet to gain traction, possibly because the public does not take the issue seriously.
Smart phones are an increasingly important aspect of American life. Their use is so common that a busy intersection without at least one person using a device would be a strange sight. Even so, it is important to consider your safety before you consider your email, tweet, text message or the next song in your playlist.
Source: USA Today, “Distracted pedestrians stumble into danger,” 30 July 2012