The Risks of Distracted Walking

We’re all too aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Ads have warned us against using any type of handheld device while operating motor vehicles for years. There are even organizations dedicated to spreading awareness of the dangers of texting and driving- but what about the dangers of being distracted by your mobile tech as a pedestrian? 

On Christmas Day, one unfortunate individual paid the price of being distracted while using a handheld electronic device. A 33 year old man fell 60 feet to his death at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego while using a handheld device. While authorities cannot determine whether the device was a cell phone or a camera, witnesses claim the man was not looking where he was going and inadvertently walked over the edge of the cliffs, ultimately falling to his death.

Events like this are tragic and, unfortunately, not uncommon. Earlier this year for example, a woman was struck and killed by a vehicle in Philadelphia. Witnesses claim the woman was using her iPad right before she stepped out in front of the vehicle.

Many of us have seen minor pedestrian collisions and thought nothing of it- someone bumps shoulders with another person on the street or runs into an object because they were looking at their mobile tech and not where they were walking. Some have even witnessed a “near-miss” where a person stops a distracted pedestrian from walking into oncoming traffic. While many love to watch entertaining videos of people not paying attention on their phones (such as the guy who almost walked into a bear while texting), we are all susceptible to the real dangers of distracted walking.

In 2013, Liberty Mutual compiled a report stating that 70% of people in the US admit to texting and walking. This means that 70% of the population has, at some time, run the risk of being hit by a vehicle or cyclist, bumping into an obstacle, or even running into another person. Some may claim that they never text and walk, but if you operate a vehicle distracted walking puts yourself as well as the pedestrian in harm’s way.

Even if you claim to text and walk when it is “safe” to do so, a study published by PLOS One revealed that people who walk and text walk noticeably slower and more irregularly than if not distracted.

With thousands of distracted pedestrians involved in accidents every year, it’s important to keep vigilant when walking near or crossing roads. We love keeping your devices charged, but we ask that you keep everyone’s safety in mind (and your head up) while using them!

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