Cell phones and handheld devices are great. They allow us to keep in touch with the world 24 hours a day/seven days a week. However, they’re not so great when we use them while multi-tasking. Although there’s been a focus on the dangers of texting while driving over the past several years, injuries caused by walking while using handheld devices is becoming an increasingly important issue.
According to a recent article in USA Today, this is particularly true for those between the ages of 16 – 25, many of whom live on college campuses and use their cell phones for just about everything. Unfortunately, many do so without being mindful of what’s going on around them. The issue of pedestrian distraction injuries on college campuses is becoming more of a concern. Don’t believe it? Read on…
Distracted Walking Injuries Tripled From 2004 To 2010
The estimated number of emergency room visits due to distraction injuries caused by walking with cell phones has risen astronomically over the past several years. According to an Ohio State University (OSU) study, 559 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms for injuries they sustained while not paying attention to what they were doing (except for talking on a cell phone, of course) in 2004. That number increased to over 1,500 in 2010 – the latest data available.
Researchers believe that those numbers are likely to increase, especially on college campuses, where more people are walking and riding their bikes than ever before due to the often cost prohibitive nature of owning a car and because of actual nature itself – aka – “being green.” Regardless of why students may be walking more, the truth of the matter is that most – if not all – have cell phones that they likely use non-stop.
While there are likely millions of distracted walkers who simply bump into someone or something while not paying attention, there have been instances that have resulted in serious injuries including:
- Falling Off A Bridge. A 14-year-old was walking over a bridge while talking on his cell phone – not watching where he was going. He fell off the bridge into a rocky ditch and suffered chest and shoulder injuries.
- Walking Off A 60′ Cliff. A 20-something-year-old woman walked off a 60-foot cliff in Kodiak, Alaska while texting and had to be rescued by firefighters. She sustained numerous injuries.
- Being Hit By A Car. A 23-year-old who was walking down the middle line of a road while talking on his cell phone was struck by a car and injured his hip.
Many would say that solving the problem is as simple as just putting the phone in your pocket and paying attention to where you’re going. However, the problem goes deeper than that – especially for the age group we’re looking at.
Addressing The Issues Of A New Generation
Cell phones have become an extension of this generation. They’ve simply always had them and take for granted the ability to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere at anytime. And they do just that. Look around any college campus and you’ll likely find more people having conversations with those on their cell phones than in person.
Addressing the issue is probably a bit more difficult than it seems because it means changing learned behaviors. However, many college campuses such as Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, The University of North Carolina and others are meeting the challenge with programs that teach college age kids and adults how to avoid accidents.
According to walkinginfo.org, developing partnerships with campus safety and health organizations, student associations and biking, hiking and running groups gives the issue greater visibility.
5 Tips To Avoid Pedestrian Distraction Injuries
Whether the issue of pedestrian distraction injuries ever reaches the social impact of texting while driving, walkinginfo.org offers up these five simple tips that can help avoid pedestrian distraction accidents and injuries:
- Don’t Jaywalk. Cross the street at marked crosswalks or intersections that utilize traffic control signals.
- Yield. Yield to cars, trucks and bikes when you are not in a cross walk or crossing an intersection.
- Share The Path. When pathways allow bikers and walkers to share, avoid straying over to the bike lane.
- Face Traffic. Always walk or jog facing traffic when sidewalks are not an option.
- Make Eye Contact. Let other people know your intention to cross a street by simply making eye contact with them. Never assume they know what you’re doing – or vice versa.
While these tips may seem overly simple, they do make sense. In fact, New York pedestrian injury lawyers say that these types of accidents frequently happen in New York City – with grave consequences. Anytime someone doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on around them because they’re distracted while talking on their cell phone or texting, their chances of getting into an accident increase.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident on a college campus or anywhere else, an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can analyze your situation and determine whether you might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost income, physical and emotional pain and suffering, rehabilitation and more – so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you. Contact us today.