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New Traffic Hazard – Walking Under the Influence of a Cell Phones

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A new study by Ohio State University has found that about 2 million injuries each year occur as a result of pedestrians walking while using their cell phones. According to a news report in The Daily Breeze, Jack Nasar, the professor who conducted the study, said that distracted walking is not yet an offense, but that it can be potentially dangerous for pedestrians. He says that although a pedestrian’s body may be in the environment, his or her head is elsewhere. When a pedestrian is texting, his or her eyes and attention are seldom on the roadway.

Cell Phone Use Deadly for Walkers

Researchers analyzed six years of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The system sampled injury reports from 100 U.S. hospitals and found that people under 30, especially men, were more prone to cell phone-related injuries. Among the worst cities in the United States for cell phone-related injuries and fatalities are the biggest California cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. The U.S. Department of Transportation is offering $2 million to 22 deadliest cities to be used for creating education and awareness.

The data from the research also revealed that the number of cellphone-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms went from about 560 in 2004 to about 1,500 in 2010 even though the total number of pedestrians treated in emergency rooms dropped. According to statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

• 4,430 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2011, an 8 percent increase since 2009.
• Pedestrians accounted for 14 percent of traffic fatalities in 2011, a 3 percent increase over 2010.
• Nationwide, a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes.
• A pedestrian is killed every two hours in the United States.

The Need for Enforcement and Education

It is no longer uncommon to see people walking while talking on the cell phone or texting on our roadways. It is also common for people to walk into objects or get hit by vehicles on the street because they are not looking at where they are going. Just as motorists get ticketed for violations, it is also important that cities that have a high rate of cell phone-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities also cite pedestrians who are walking while using a cell phone. As a California personal injury lawyer who represents victims of accident injuries, it irks me that the state’s largest cities are dealing with the problem of distracted walkers.

The solution for the problem – like many other problems – is creating awareness and stepping up education especially in our schools. Parents should lead by example. When parents walk on the street texting or chatting on their cell phones, there is a likelihood that their children will follow in their footsteps. Just as we have the “Every 15 Minutes” campaign against drunk driving in our high schools, we should also have a similar campaign against distracted driving and walking for our youth. If we fail to curtail this problem, the number of injuries and fatalities will only increase in the coming years.

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