You might chuckle to yourself when accidentally walking into a pole while you are sending a text to your spouse, kids or friends. Such blunders may seem harmless, especially when the only thing that is harmed is your ego. However, statistics provided by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association found that 6,000 pedestrian deaths were caused by distracted walking, as the amount of smartphone usage has increased. This report shows little change from the reported 5,987 pedestrian fatalities that occurred in 2016 from data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Distracted Walking Dangers from Cell Phones
When sending a text, talking on the phone, or listening to music, these distractions force a person to concentrate more on their phone than the roadway around them. They may not see or hear incoming traffic approach. Also, a person may have their head down while looking at the screen as they type out a text, read an email or play an app game. With their head down, they no longer are watching where they are going. This problem can lead to injuries resulting in not obeying local traffic regulations or crossing the street at inappropriate places instead of using the crosswalk.
Besides vehicle collisions with pedestrians, many walkers may also experience injuries from tripping on obstacles on sidewalks, falling down stairs, and running into poles. A pedestrian will walk slower than normal while they are concentrating on their phones. When this behavior is combined with not looking both ways when crossing the street, or when disobeying traffic signs, it increases the chances of a pedestrian becoming hurt.
Health Risks Caused by Distracted Walking
Some of the most common health risks involve tripping, which could lead to sprains, strains, cuts, fractures, and bruises. More serious injuries can also occur based on the type of accident, such as falls, walking into objects or getting struck by moving vehicles. People may experience broken bones, brain injuries, concussions, and spinal cord injuries.
Besides causing injuries to themselves, pedestrians engaged in distracted walking may also inadvertently cause injuries to others. When a distracted pedestrian enters the road, they can make an approaching driver take evasive action so they do not run over the person. This situation can cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle and create an accident. The driver may injure themselves, other drivers, or other pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Preventing Distracted Walking
The best way to prevent distracted walking is to put away the phone while crossing streets in Miami, FL. A pedestrian should pay attention to their surroundings at all times while obeying all traffic signals, and they should cross streets at designated crosswalk locations. However, the allure of checking social media, answering the phone, or sending a text and email can be overwhelming.
If a person has to check their phone, taking periodic breaks from the screen allows a pedestrian to reorient themselves to their surroundings. The pedestrian should stop and finish the call, text or email before crossing the street. They should have their head up and paying attention to traffic while not glancing at their phone screens.
For people who like to work on their phones while walking, there are several apps available to increase pedestrian safety while allowing them to create texts. Voice recognition software apps can be used to dictate speech into text. There are also apps that will read incoming messages aloud. Tech companies are currently looking into creating transparent screens that allow a pedestrian to see the sidewalk and surroundings around them. By holding the phone up while looking at texts, reading emails or playing social media games, people can still use their phones while being careful where they walk.
If listening to music or having earbuds in, a pedestrian should lower the volume so they can hear oncoming traffic and emergency vehicles. They may also decide to just wear one earbud while talking. Noise canceling earbuds are not recommended when crossing busy streets and intersections.
Being Safe While Out Walking
While younger pedestrians are more prone to being involved in a serious accident, any age group can become a distracted pedestrian. Putting down the phone and paying attention while outside can lower the chances of becoming involved in a dangerous accident. In addition, pedestrians can also avoid causing injuries to other pedestrians and drivers. If it’s vital to check the phone, make sure to do it in a safe manner.
Here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC., we protect the rights of pedestrians and motorists who may become injured on Miami, Florida roads. If you or a loved one has experienced a personal injury, contact our offices today. You can schedule for a free consultation as we can go over the details of your case.