A new study from a child safety nonprofit organization says that teenagers became much more likely to get hit by a vehicle when crossing streets over the last five years. The study links this increased accident rate to cell phone-related distractions. So-called “distracted walking” is adding a new dimension to concerns about the rise in distracted driving accidents.
Between 2005 and 2010, rates of child pedestrian injuries dropped across all age groups except one: 16- to 19-year-olds. On the contrary, accidents in which cars struck older teenage pedestrians while crossing the street rose 25 percent. This new rate, combined with a decline in injuries to younger age groups, means that 16- to 19-year-olds were three times as likely to get hit by a car in 2010.
Unsurprisingly, the nonprofit group behind the study linked the sharp increase to the rise of phones. Dramatically more teenagers own cell phones now than ten years ago. While phones bring enormous social and convenience benefits, teenagers apparently need to put them down and focus on their surroundings when crossing streets.
With the growing ubiquity of phones and other portable electronic devices, phone-related distractions have become a source of serious concerns. Most states, for example, prohibit texting and other phone activities while driving a car. Distracted walking, especially among teenagers, may become an equally difficult safety problem.
Source: USA Today, “Report: ‘Distracted walking’ endangers teens,” Greg Toppo, Aug. 29, 2012