The Perils of Distracted Walking

The dangers of drivers distracted by smartphones has gotten a lot of attention, and deservedly so. What can also harm you is distracted walking. That happens when you’re walking but not paying attention to your surroundings because you’re focused on your smart phone or other electronic device.

A study published by Ohio State University estimates that more than 1,500 pedestrians received medical treatment in the nation’s emergency rooms in 2010 due to injuries from using a cell phone while walking. That’s an increase of more than 100% compared to the estimated number in 2005, though overall pedestrian injuries declined. Those 16 to 25 years old were most likely to get themselves in trouble, most of them hurt while talking, not texting.

The study was based on injury reports from a hundred hospitals nationwide. The data covered 2004 to 2010 and injuries related to cell phone use by pedestrians in public areas. Injuries that occurred in non-public areas, such as in homes or private buildings or parking lots, were not included, and there are no statistics for injuries to those who did not go to emergency rooms — so the actual number of those injured while walking while distracted may be much higher. The study was published in 2013.

Some of the people going to the emergency room due to distracted walking include those who were injured while doing one of these things:

  • Walking into a telephone pole while texting
  • Walking along a road then falling into a ditch while talking on a cell phone
  • Playing a video game and crossing a street, causing the person to be clipped by a pickup truck
  • Texting and falling off a curb, lacerating her face.

Psychological studies have shown that most of us can’t focus on two things at the same time, reports Our attention goes back and forth between tasks, and performance suffers. Those of us who walk and talk or text think we’re in control and it’s going to be the other guy who’ll be hurt by doing the same.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which provides regional rail and bus services to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, published surveillance video of a man talking on a cell phone as he walked off a train platform and fell onto the tracks below. After the clip made the news, the agency received reports from bus drivers and train engineers saying they nearly hit pedestrians who didn’t pay attention to their horns because they were distracted by electronic devices. SEPTA states several people wearing headphones or using cellphones while trespassing on tracks have been hit and killed by its trains.

We represent pedestrians who are injured in vehicle and slip and fall accidents, and pedestrians cannot take their health and safety for granted. They need to pay attention and take care when getting to their destination.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a pedestrian due to the negligence of others, contact our office, so we can talk about the situation, how the law may apply and your best options for seeking compensation for the injuries.

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