According to a recent study to be published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, Americans have a problem paying attention, not only while driving but also while walking. And cell phones are largely to blame.
The study showed that at least 1,500 Americans were injured in 2010 while walking and using their cell phone. The problem has reportedly been increasing since 2005, going from 256 injuries pedestrian injuries to 1506 pedestrian injuries. Distracted driving, of course, is a well known safety issue for drivers, but the risks of distracted walking aren’t as well known.
The mechanics of cell phone distraction are similar for both drivers and walkers. Researchers call the phenomenon “inattentional blindness.” The fact is that using a cell phone uses precious cognitive resources that drivers and pedestrians need to maintain safety awareness.
The research shows that more people are injured in walking-talking accidents than in texting-walking accidents. This likely just means, though, that less people text while they walk. The bottom line is that either activity carries risks.
Distracted driving, of course, is a big issue across the nation, and one that most states have taken some measures to address. In Colorado, the measures are less stringent than in other states—the state only prohibits novice drivers from using cell phones while driving. All drivers are, however, prohibited from texting while driving, unless some emergency exception applies.
Distracted driving, obviously, can present not only the possibility of a traffic citation, but also liability issues for drivers that do it. When an accident occurs and distracted driving is found to have been a factor, the offending driver will take more of the blame at trial.
Source: The Atlantic Cities, “Distracted Walking Puts 1,500 People Into the Hospital a Year,” Eric Jaffe, July 19, 2013.