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Pedestrian injuries are on the rise due to distractions

When people think about car crashes, they first ask about drivers and passengers in the car. However, more pedestrians are sustaining severe injuries from accidents due to distracted walking. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association's report, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed during motor vehicle accidents in 2017.

The study contributed to the high number of pedestrian fatalities to the growth of smartphone use. Some states, such as Utah and New Jersey, are experimenting with new fines for texting while walking in dangerous situations. Other states, like New York, are lowering speed limits to help drivers spot distracted walkers.

Distractions while walking

As states develop solutions for distracted walking, it's important for pedestrians to understand what is distracting them while traveling from one location to another.

The most common distraction today is our mobile phones. We text, post and chat with our friends all day, and walking is no exception. However, using a cellphone puts walkers at risk for serious injuries or even death in rare cases.

There are also other distractions such as listening to music that impact walkers significantly. Any distraction that takes away your attention while walking on the road puts you at risk.

More groups are recognizing the dangers of distracted driving and promoting bills for pedestrian safety. The city of Montclair in California already placed an ordinance to ban cellphone or headphone use while walking across the street.

Safety tips for pedestrians

Despite distractions, everyone can be a safe pedestrian if they follow basic tips for walking:

  • Stay alert - avoid texting, talking or playing on your phone while walking outside. The more we pay attention to our surroundings, the lower our chances are for being injured in an accident.
  • Use paths or walkways - using paths or walkways instead of busy sidewalks can help walkers avoid heavy traffic or accident-prone areas. Also, if you need to use a street, make sure there are traffic lights and crosswalks.
  • Never expect a car to stop - we tend to believe everyone wants to be safe while driving. However, drivers may be distracted, so never assume a car will stop for you. Make eye contact with the driver before crossing a street.
  • Walk in a group - a group is easier for drivers to identify versus one person. It also pertains to children. Make sure your children walk with an adult.
  • Avoid walking at night - darkness may make pedestrians harder to spot, so avoid walking in the dark. If you need to walk at night, try wearing reflective clothing.

The most important tip is to pay attention because you cannot predict when an accident will occur. Your phone should never take priority over your safety.

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