By now, it's no secret that texting while driving is a contributing factor in many serious car accidents, both here in Missouri and nationwide. However, our Kansas City personal injury lawyers were alarmed to see a recent study indicating that cell phone use is creating yet another health hazard for pedestrians - and young people are particularly at-risk of injury.
The study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, revealed that cell phone-related injuries among pedestrians have more than doubled over a six year period. In 2010, about 1,500 pedestrians received emergency room medical treatment for cell phone related incidents, compared to just 559 in 2004. According to the study, the most at-risk age group for cell phone related injuries is adults under age 30 - and more specifically, people between the ages of 16 and 25. The types of injuries sustained were widespread, ranging from falling off walkways or bridges to walking into oncoming traffic. The outcomes of these accidents included broken bones, concussions, dislocated shoulders, and car crash-related fatalities.
Distracted walking: Facts about teens, pedestrian injuries and fatalities
• According to Safe Kids Worldwide, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise among teenagers between age 15 and 19. In fact, this age group now accounts for around 50% of all pedestrian deaths in victims under age 19.
• A Safe Kids study found that one in five high schoolers and one in eight middle schoolers had been observed crossing a roadway while distracted by the use of an electronic device (talking on the phone, texting, listening to music, playing a game, etc.). However, the most common source of electronic distractions in this age group was caused by headphone usage or text messaging.
• Nearly half of teens who were polled for the Safe Kids study admitted using a cell phone while walking to or from school.
So, how can these accidents be prevented? Safety experts say the solution is simple. If you receive a call, text or email while walking, and the message simply can't wait, step off the sidewalk and send your response. Then, put your phone away until you've arrived safely at your destination. Never use your phone in any capacity when you're attempting to cross a roadway: research indicates that cell phone users are four times less likely to remain within crosswalks, obey traffic signals, or check for oncoming traffic before entering an intersection. "Blame the universal myth of Multi-Tasking for the problem: human brain evolution does not allow for texting at the same time as walking, and that's a fact," Dr. Rock Positano told the Huffington Post. "You cannot think as a split screen: you are always limited to one task at a time, one requiring full attention and one which becomes a hazardous distraction. What appears to you to be multi-tasked activity are really two tasks half-heartedly attended to, with sometimes-fatal results. You can walk but not text, or text but not walk, much as you can drive but not text or text but not drive, and never both at the same time."